By Manuel Cereijo
Types of Uranium
Natural uranium- uranium that contains 99.3% of the isotope uranium-238 and 0.7 % of the fissionable isotope uranium-235
Low enriched uranium- uranium that contains the isotope uranium 235 in a concentration less than 20% and higher than 0.7%. Most commercial reactor fuel has been enriched to 3-5% of uranium 235
Highly enriched uranium- uranium that contains the isotope uranium-235 in a concentration above 20%. Highly enriched uranium is used in research reactors, naval propulsion reactors, and weapons.
Depleted uranium-uranium with less than 0.7% of the isotope uranium-235.
What is Uranium enrichment?
Uranium enrichment is a critical step in transforming natural uranium into nuclear fuel or weapon grade uranium. Enrichment is the process of increasing the concentration of uranium 235 while decreasing the concentration of uranium 238.
Aluminum-clad cylinders or rods are essential in the production of enriched uranium
Due to international regulations, Iraq cannot purchased aluminum clad rods in the world market. Neither has Iraq the manufacturing facilities in place to produce them. However, Cuba does.
Cuba has a large manufacturing plant-Planta Mecanica- that has the capacity, technology, and raw material to manufacture these kind of specialized aluminum rods, so much needed by Iraq to develop its nuclear weapon capabilities. Fuel element assemblies methods include welding, swaging, pinning, including box-type elements and cylindrical element assemblies.
Planta Mecanica is located north and west of the city of Santa Clara, in the center of Cuba. For the last few years its production has been dedicated to specialized needs for the biotechnology industry, as well as the nuclear related industry. Planta Mecanica has been a key factor in the development of Cuba's biotechnology industry, as well as in assisting Iran with the equipment and machinery needed to develop its biotechnology industry, and that Iran cannot purchase in the world market.
For the last two years, a large part of Planta Mecanica production facilities has been dedicated to satisfy Iraq's nuclear centers needs.
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