Austrian labs key to future of Iran nuclear deal
Seibersdorf, Austria (AFP) Nov 5, 2018 –
As US President Donald Trump reimposes sweeping sanctions on Iran on Monday, all eyes are again on the precarious future of a landmark international deal meant to curb Tehran’s nuclear programme.
One place that could feel the ramifications of Trump’s decision is an unassuming lab complex near the Austrian town of Seibersdorf — at first sight a world away from geopolitical manoeuvering over Tehran’s nuclear programme.
But the site houses the International Atomic Energy Agency’s laboratories, which are key to verifying Iran’s compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), signed in 2015 between Iran and world powers.
It’s in these labs that the IAEA’s scientists carry out their painstaking work of analysing the samples collected by their inspectors in the field.
There are two main sets of laboratories: one for testing declared nuclear materials and another to process “environmental” samples designed to pick up clues to possible undeclared nuclear activity.
For the former, samples are taken from containers of nuclear material up to hundreds of kilograms in weight.
“By the time we go to the measurement lab, they’ll be measuring millionths of a gram,” explains Steve Balsley, head of the Nuclear Materials Laboratory.
The nuclear materials lab deals with around 500 samples a year but has the capacity to handle much more than that at busier periods.
The second main type of testing is “environmental” sampling, which consists of intricate analysis of “swipes” resembling small square cloths.
This gives clues as to the kinds of nuclear activities that have been carried out at a given location.
The analysis can for example tease out traces of different sorts of uranium detected at a site, to see if isotopes are present which suggest enrichment activity over and above what a country has declared.
Such work could be key to verifying a deal …read more
From:: Nuke Wars – Spacewar.com