Oct 2006 – IAEA can account for 328 centrifuges operating at the PFEP
May 2007 – IAEA can account for 1,312 centrifuges operating at the FEP, in addition to the 328 at the PFEP (making a total of 1,650)
There is a big blank space in IAEA accountability events between November 2004 and May 2007. At no time during this period, from when the tunneling started at Esfahan to when IAEA could finally report a number on centrifuges operating at the FEP – i.e., the Iranians let a team in to have a look – was IAEA able to confirm what was going on in the FEP or in the underground chambers of the tunnel complex.
Indeed, nothing can be confirmed, on any date since that time, about what’s going on in the tunnel complexes, either at Esfahan or Natanz.
Certainly, if Rouhani referred in the video to operational centrifuges in 2005, his totals are between 1,536 and 2,836 more than the baseline of operational centrifuges known to IAEA in 2005. We may never know for sure how many there were operational then. Among other things, that means we may well not know how many there are operational today. (We have other reasons for not being certain about that, of course.)
One thing we do know, however, in our little universe of known knowns about the Iranian nuclear problem, is that the uranium enrichment curve has continued to accelerate. It may have accelerated more than we know, but it has accelerated at least as much as we know.
* The Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant, or PFEP, is a facility located at Natanz where Iran initiates new enrichment processes on a small scale. The co-located main Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) houses the industrial-scale enrichment cascades, where Western analysts have assessed the bulk of the uranium enrichment to be done.
About the Author: J.E. Dyer is a retired US Naval intelligence officer who served around the world, afloat and ashore, from 1983 to 2004.
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