IAEA to use gamma-ray detector to monitor Iranian nuclear facilities

IAEA gamma-ray detector | Courtesy of the IAEA
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) unveiled a new gamma-ray detector that will help with uranium-enrichment monitoring related to the international agreement with Iran, the IAEA said late last week.

The device, the Online Enrichment Monitor (OLEM), is capable of real-time monitoring of uranium-235 isotopes within nuclear assemblies. The OLEM will assist in making sure that the Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant in Iran remains in line with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which limits enrichment levels to 3.67 percent. Prior to the development of OLEM, enrichment monitoring was a lengthy process that could take approximately three weeks to complete sampling and analysis.

The enrichment limitations ensure that radioactive material produced at the site would not be viable in a nuclear weapon.

“The agreed limitations on all uranium enrichment and related activities, including on specific Research and Development activities, will allow Iran to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes,” Massimo Aparo, head of the IAEA’s Iran Task Force, said.

The JCPOA facilitates limitations on Iran’s nuclear program so that it is unable to produce nuclear materials for any purpose other than peaceful uses, such as power generation and medical applications. In exchange, the international community has agreed to lift certain economic sanctions. The IAEA has taken on the role of monitoring activity in Iran’s nuclear facilities.

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