According to the IAEC's website, the main purpose of the research conducted at the Negev Nuclear Research Center (NNRC) is to "broaden basic knowledge in nuclear sciences and adjacent fields and to provide the foundation for the practical and economic utilization of ."  According to other reports and the revelations of Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, the NNRC consists of ten different "machons" or institutes.
Machon 1 is the IRR-2 heavy water reactor. The Machon 2 facility is reportedly the most sensitive building in the NNRC, with six floors underground dedicated to activities identified as extraction, production of tritium and lithium-6.  From 1977 to 1979, Israel allegedly exported shipments totaling 30g of tritium to South Africa, suggesting "tritium production on a scale sufficient for a weapon-boosting program."  Machon 3 is reportedly dedicated to processing natural into fuel rods to send to Machon 5, and conversion of lithium-6 into a solid form for weapons use. Machon 4 is a waste treatment plant for waste produced by chemical at Machon 2. Machon 5 prepares the fuel rods from Machon 3 for use in a reactor by coating them with aluminum. Machon 6 is a facility for provision of chemicals, power and other basic services. Machon 8 tests the purity of samples from Machon 2 and experiments on new manufacturing processes. Machon 9 is home to a laser facility and Machon 10 chemically separates depleted uranium for eventual use in bullets, armor plating and artillery and bomb shells. Nuclear physicists Frank Barnaby and Theodore Taylor, among others, determined Vanunu's descriptions of the activities at Dimona to be credible. 
The Israel -2 (IRR-2) is a heavy water cooled and moderated, natural uranium-fueled of unverified origin and power capacity.  Initially, the original reactor power level was declared to be 26MWt, but estimates of the reactor's power have gone as high as 70 or 150MWt, based on information provided by Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu.  In Israel and the Bomb, Avner Cohen outlines Israeli-French nuclear collaboration during the 1950's and 1960's. During this time, France reportedly secretly agreed to build the IRR-2 reactor at Dimona.  Shimon Peres, the director general of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, signed a secret nuclear deal with France dated 3 October 1957.  The construction of the Dimona reactor was concealed as a textile plant or a metallurgical lab. Most of the site's facilities are located underground.  Prime Minister Ben Gurion formally announced in 1960 that the reactor and research undertaken at the Dimona facility were for "peaceful purposes." 
The reactor is not under . The IAEA reports that the IRR-2 went critical in December 1963.  The origin of the fuel supply is unknown. It is also unknown how many staff members operate the reactor or how often it is online. Israel has required foreign assistance in order to procure heavy water for the IRR-2. From 1956 to 1958, Israel consulted with Norway on purchasing 20 tons of heavy water. Norway agreed to re-purchase heavy water it had sold to Great Britain and transfer it directly to Israel. Norway transferred the heavy water in two shipments in 1960 and 1961. 
It is widely assumed that Israel reprocesses from the IRR-2 to obtain plutonium for its alleged nuclear weapons program.  Estimates of the reactor's plutonium production capabilities vary according to assessments of the IRR-2's power capacity. Operating at 70 MWt, the IRR-2 could have produced as much as 700kg of plutonium at a production rate of 14-17kg per year.  If the power capacity reached 150 MWt, as Vanunu's testimony indicated, the reactor could have produced anywhere from 400 to 800kg of plutonium by the 1980s.  It is this uncertainty regarding the plutonium production capability of the IRR-2 that contributes to wide-ranging estimates of the size of Israel's nuclear arsenal.
Israel reportedly produces approximately 10 tons of yellowcake annually. Milling activities, including yellowcake and uranium oxide production, are suspected to be carried out at the Negev Nuclear Research Center. 
Israel reportedly has a uranium conversion facility at Dimona that produces uranium dioxide.  Uranium oxide from the milling process requires additional processing to prepare it as fuel for a nuclear reactor. Uranium oxide is refined to uranium dioxide (UO2), which can subsequently be manufactured into fuel for the IRR-2 reactor. 
In a 1996 SIPRI publication, David Albright et al. reported that Israel had conducted laser enrichment activities, but the extent and success of these activities remains uncertain.  Mordechai Vanunu, who leaked information on Israel's nuclear program to The Sunday Times in 1986, claimed Israel pursued both gas-centrifuge and laser enrichment technologies for .
According to Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu, the Negev Nuclear Research Center (NNRC) has two facilities for fuel fabrication, Machon 3 and Machon 5. Machon 3 is dedicated to processing natural uranium into fuel rods and to conversion of lithium-6 into a solid form for weapons use. Machon 5 prepares the fuel rods from Machon 3 for reactor use by coating them with aluminum. 
Numerous sources report that Israel carries out plutonium at the Negev Nuclear Research Center in an underground facility called Machon 2.  It is now understood, but not acknowledged by Israel, that France provided Israel with a reprocessing plant under a secret 1957 nuclear deal.  The separation of plutonium reportedly first occurred at Dimona in 1965 or 1966.  Israeli nuclear whistleblower Mordechai Vanunu discussed Israel's reprocessing operations in his account of the activities at Dimona. Reportedly, the facility consisted of "six underground levels dedicated to separating plutonium from fuel by the Purex process, converting the plutonium into metal and shaping the metal into weapons components." 
Estimates of separated plutonium production vary, but all support the reprocessing of enough plutonium for a nuclear bomb. A 1996 study by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) estimates that Israel "had produced 300-580kg of plutonium though 1995."  Another study from the Institute for Science and International Security concluded that through 2003, Israel had "produced 510-650kg of plutonium." 
The Negev Nuclear Research Center is responsible for management in Israel. The site accepts waste from "hospitals, research institutions, higher education facilities and factories."