●Natanz: Iran’s main uranium enrichment facility
•Recently, a fire broke out at Natanz, an Underground Nuclear Facility of Iran used for enriching uranium.
[Enriched uranium is a type of uranium in which the percent composition of uranium-235 is increased.]
•It is among the sites monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) after Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers i.e. the USA ,UK, France, China, Russia, and Germany
•Natanz became a point of controversy as Iran refused to allow an IAEA inspector into the facility in October 2019, after allegedly testing positive for suspected traces of explosive nitrates.
•Nitrates are a common fertilizer, however, when mixed with proper amounts of fuel, the material can become an explosive as powerful as Trinitrotoluene (TNT).
•TNT is also known as 2,4,6-Trinitrotoluene and does not occur naturally in the environment.
•It is an explosive used in military shells, bombs, and grenades, and in underwater blasting.
•The Stuxnet computer virus, believed to be an American and Israeli creation, disrupted and destroyed centrifuges at Natanz amid the height of Western concerns over Iran’s nuclear program in 2010.
•USA’s Response: The USA has unilaterally withdrawn from the nuclear deal in May 2018 as Iran has continuously been breaking all the production limits set by the deal.
•According to the IAEA Iran enriches uranium to about 4.5 % purity, above the terms of the nuclear deal
International Atomic Energy Agency
•Widely known as the world’s “Atoms for Peace and Development” organization within the United Nations family, the IAEA is the international centre for cooperation in the nuclear field.
•The IAEA was created in 1957 in response to the deep fears and expectations generated by the discoveries and diverse uses of nuclear technology.
Headquarter: Vienna, Austria.
•The Agency works with its Member States and multiple partners worldwide to promote safe, secure and peaceful use of nuclear technologies.
•In 2005 it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their work for a safe and peaceful world.
•It is an independent international organization that reports annually to the United Nation General Assembly. When necessary, the IAEA also reports to the UN Security Council in regards to instances of members’ non-compliance with safeguards and security obligations.