Order Code RS22531
Updated August 9, 2007
Iranian Nuclear Sites
Hussein D. Hassan
Information Research Specialist
Knowledge Services Group
On April 9, 2007, Iran declared that it has now developed the capability to produce
enriched uranium which is needed to make nuclear fuel on an industrial scale. This
report describes Iran’s known nuclear sites listed in official International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA) reports and includes a map with the location of the nuclear facilities.
For further information and analysis of Iran’s nuclear programs, see CRS Report
RS21592, Iran’s Nuclear Program: Recent Developments, by Sharon Squassoni; and
CRS Report RL32048, Iran: U.S. Concerns and Policy Responses, by Kenneth
Katzman. This report will be updated as warranted.
Beginning in 2003, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) intensified
nuclear inspections after Iran confirmed the existence of several undeclared nuclear sites.
In 2004, the IAEA reported extensively on these sites. This report describes the key sites
identified by the IAEA.
IAEA and Nuclear Sites in Focus. The IAEA, created in 1957, is a Viennabased, UN-affiliated organization with 137 member countries. The two main missions
and principles of the IAEA are1
to facilitate the use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes; and
to implement a system of audits and on-site inspections (collectively
known as safeguards) to verify that nuclear facilities and materials are not
being diverted for nuclear explosions.
According to published reports, Iran has a long list of known and suspected nuclear
facilities. Many analysts raised serious questions regarding the character of Iran’s nuclear
research, development, and production facilities. Tehran has a large and well-dispersed
Joseph Cirincione, Jon B. Wolfsthal, and Miriam Tajkumar, Deadly Arsenals: Nuclear,
Biological and Chemical Threats, second edition (Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for
International Peace, 2005).
mix of state industries and military facilities that it can use to hide its activities or to
shelter and disperse them.2
According to published reports by the IAEA, the following nuclear sites have been
declared or are relevant to the implementation of IAEA safeguards:3
Tehran Nuclear Research Center. Since 1968, the Tehran Nuclear Research
Center, located in suburban Amirabad, has included a research reactor with a nominal
capacity of 5 megawatts, provided by the United States under IAEA safeguards.
Tehran. The research program of the Tehran-based Center for Theoretical Physics
and Mathematics of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) includes theoretical
physics, and other research and development related to high energy physics, including
particle physics, mathematical physics, astrophysics, theoretical nuclear physics, statistical
mechanics, theoretical plasma physics, and mathematics.
Bushehr. The focus of a considerable amount of controversy in the United States,
the nuclear facility at Bushehr is being built under an agreement between the Russian and
Iranian governments for an estimated $800 million.
Esfahan [Isfahan] Nuclear Technology Center. Esfahan [Isfahan] is believed
to be the primary location of the Iranian nuclear weapons program. The Nuclear
Technology/Research Center in Esfahan is Iran’s largest nuclear research center and is
said to employ as many as 3,000 scientists. Iran signed an agreement with France in 1975
to build a nuclear research center in Esfahan and provide training for personnel to operate
the Bushehr reactor located at the University of Esfahan. It is the location of Iran’s
nuclear conversion effort.
Natanz. During a press conference on August 22, 2006, by the representative office
of the National Council of Resistance of Iran held in Washington, DC, the existence of
a secret nuclear facility at Natanz was revealed. Natanz is located between Esfahan and
Kashan in central Iran. The facility is reportedly 100 miles north of Esfahan, in old
Kashan-Natanz, near a village called Deh-Zireh, about 25 miles southeast of Kashan.
Karaj/Karai/Hastgerd. The Nuclear Research Center for Agriculture and
Medicine in Karaj, 100 miles northwest of Tehran, includes a recently constructed
building which houses a dosimetry laboratory and an agricultural radio chemistry
Lashkar Ab’ad. Lashkar Aba’ad is a pilot laser enrichment plant established in
2000 and dismantled in 2003.
Arak. During a press conference by the representative office of the National
Council of Resistance of Iran held in Washington, DC, on August 14, 2002, the existence
of a secret nuclear facility at Arak was revealed. It is located at the Qatran Workshop near
Anthony H. Cordesman, Iran’s Developing Military Capabilities (Washington, DC: Center for
Strategic and International Studies Press, 2005).
Global Security, at [http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/iran/nuke-fac.htm].
the Qara-Chai river in the Khondaub/Khondab region in central Iran, 150 miles south of
Tehran. According to the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the Mesbah Energy
Company, a front organization, has been used to prevent unwanted disclosures. The
headquarters of the Mesbah Energy Company is located in Tehran. On November 18,
2006, Reza Aqazadeh, Director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), said
that Arak’s 40-megawatt heavy water research reactor will replace Tehran’s 5-megawatt
reactor, which is over 30 years old.4
Anarak. There are reportedly rich occurrences of uranium ore near Anarak, not far
from Yazd. The famous Talmessi (or Talmesi) Mine near Anarak produced the first
specimen of Seelite in 1955.
Table 1. Relevant Nuclear Locations in Iran Designated by the IAEA
Facility/Reactor as of
Tehran nuclear research
Tehran Research Reactor
Kalaye Electric Company
Dismantled pilot enrichment
Bushehr Nuclear Power
Esfahan nuclear technology
Miniature Neutron Source
Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant
Radioactive Waste Storage
Pilot Uranium Laser
Iran Nuclear Research
In detailed design phase
Waste Storage Site
Waste to be transferred to
Jabr Hayan Laboratories
Source: International Atomic Energy Agency, Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the
Islamic Republic of Iran, November 15, 2004.
Recent Developments. Reportedly, Iran has said that it expects the Bushehr
nuclear power plant to be commissioned by the end of March 2008. Work on the plant
is being carried out by the Russian atomic energy company Atomstroiexport, but it was
“Arak nuclear reactor to replace Tehran reactor-Iranian agency,” BBC Monitoring Middle East,
November 19, 2006.
halted earlier this year over a dispute regarding payments.5 Currently, a Russian
delegation is in Tehran holding talks to settle the problem, and Iran is hopeful an
agreement can be reached.
On April 9, 2007, in a speech at the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran has now developed the capability to produce
enriched uranium which is needed to make nuclear fuel. He claimed that Iran had begun
production of enriched uranium using 3,000 centrifuges. At the gathering he said, “As
of today, Iran is among the countries which produce nuclear fuel on an industrial scale.”
On December 23, 2006, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted resolution
1737 against Iran. The resolution bans trading with Iran in items that could be utilized
in the country’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs for its refusal to suspend uranium
enrichment activities.6 It also imposes an asset freeze on key companies and people in the
country’s nuclear and missile programs named on a U.N. list.
On January 28, 2007, on his one-day trip to Tehran, the Secretary of Russia’s
Security Chief, Igor Ivanov, vowed to launch Iran’s nuclear plant on schedule in
September after talks in Tehran with leaders of the Islamic republic. Ivanov said, “Russia
is determined and serious in fulfilling its obligation to finish Bushehr plant on the
scheduled date.”7 In September 2006, Russia and Iran signed an agreement setting
September 2007 as the deadline for the launch of the Russian-built Bushehr nuclear power
station which lies on the Gulf coast in southwestern Iran.
Geographically, the Iranian nuclear sites are located in a corridor running south from
the Tehran area to the Persian Gulf. For further details on the actual locations of these
sites see Figure 1 below.
Simon Wardell, “Iran Aims for March 2008 Bushehr Start-Up,” Global Insight, April 11, 2007.
Security Council Imposes Sanction on Iran for Failure to Halt Uranium Enrichment,
Unanimously Adopting Resolution 1737 (2006), available at
Agence France-Presse, Russia vows to keep schedule for Iran nuclear plant, January 28, 2007.
Figure 1. Known Iranian Nuclear Sites.
Source: International Atomic Energy Agency. Nuclear facility site locations are approximate. Map
prepared by Congressional Cartography Program, 2006.