Iran Owned Part of Eurodif – Document Posted

ES1997

By Ivanka Barzashka

FAS has posted a report on “Enrichment Supply and Technology Outside the United States” by S. A. Levin and S. Blumkin from the Enrichment Department of the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant, operated at the time by Union Carbide. The document, prepared for the U.S. Energy Research and Development Administration, reviews international uranium enrichment capacity and isotope separation technology as of 1977.

Apart from being of historical interest, the report explicitly states that Eurodif, a French-organized multinational enrichment consortium, was in part owned by Iran.

“The membership and apportionment of shares in Eurodif has been changeable. Presently, it is constituted by Belgium and Spain 11% each. Italy 25%, France 28% and Sofidif 25%, which is 40% owned by Iran and 60% by France.”

“In 1975, another consortium called Coredif with the same multinational membership as Eurodif but a different distribution of shares (Eurodif 51%, France 29% and Iran 20%) was organized to assess future nuclear demand and build a second Eurodif-type plant if the study results justified it.”

This is consistent with Iran’s claims that it owned shares of the enrichment company prior to the Islamic Revolution in 1979. This claim has been confirmed by the French government, but Iran has never received enriched uranium from the company.

The document has a disclaimer that “[i]t should not be presumed that the inclusion in this presentation of any reported information necessarily attests to its validity.”

3 thoughts on “Iran Owned Part of Eurodif – Document Posted

  1. Where the disagreement I think arises is whether Iran’s current arrangement with AREVA/Eurodif entitles it to nuclear fuel.

    Iran agreed to invest in Eurodif under the Shah, who lent the project $1 billion. The loan would have entitled Iran to buy 10% of the enriched uranium produced by the plant. In 1977, Iran paid another $180 million for future enrichment services. But after the revolution, Tehran canceled its agreement and halted payment because Khomeini wasn’t interested in nuclear power. Iran demanded its loan be repaid with interest.

    According to the French, when they settled the dispute in 1991, Iran was reimbursed $1.6 billion for its original 1974 loan plus interest. The deal also rendered Iran an indirect shareholder in Eurodif (AREVA now says “sleeping partner”) through Soldif. This arrangement only entitles Iran to take part in meetings of Eurodif’s supervisory board, collect Eurodif dividents, and redistribute dividends to its shareholders. The 1991 arrangements does not entitle Iran to technology or enriched uranium. Unfortunately, the document we really need to get our hands on is not likely to be released any time soon.

  2. Brian,

    The Eurodif case has been used by Iran as an epitome of why the West cannot be trusted to provide credible fuel guarantees and is part of the rationale for Iran’s own enrichment program. I have not seen official statements in which Iran explicitly states that it is now entitled to French nuclear fuel. It is possible that currently there is less of a disagreement there than has been publicized.

    According to Iran, it actually purchased a 10 percent share of Eurodif in 1975 and “agreed to buy a quota of enriched uranium form the new plant”. In addition, the Shah had provided a billion dollars as “financial aid”. (INFCIRC/657) According to the French government, the 1991 amendment to the original 1974 French-Iranian agreement precludes Iran’s access to technology and enriched uranium. I have not seen statements in which the French deny that Iran had those rights under the 1974 agreement (otherwise, agreeing to an amendment that specifically denies access to nuclear technology and fuel seems superfluous).

    This issue has come up again in recent TRR fuel negotiations. Iranian officials did not want to hold direct negotiations with France because it could trusted and Iran wants more credible fuel delivery guarantees.

  3. It’s hard to have much sympathy for Iran’s position on France’s unreliability when it was Iran that unilaterally canceled the contract and demanded its money back.

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