Atomic agency says Iran installed new centrifuges at nuclear site (ISRAEL HAYOM) Eli Leon, Shlomo Cesana and News Agencies 05/24/12)
Israel Hayom Articles-Index-Top
IAEA report says 350 additional centrifuges were recently installed
in the Fordo underground uranium enrichment facility • Iranians will
be asked to explain why they are expanding enrichment capacity while
attending nuclear talks in Baghdad.
A second round of talks between Iran and six Western countries, which
began in Baghdad on Wednesday, has not resulted in any major
breakthrough so far. The talks will continue on Thursday, but Western
diplomats were not optimistic they would yield an agreement.
In a development that may prove to be a major setback in the talks, a
report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, set to be released
on Friday, is said to include information about Iran´s ongoing
efforts to expand its uranium enrichment capability. Western
diplomats told Reuters on Wednesday that since February Iran has
installed 350 new centrifuges at the Fordo underground uranium
enrichment facility near the city of Qom. Before the new centrifuges
were installed, the facility already housed 700 centrifuges, which
diplomats say were not operational.
According to diplomats, the Iranian delegation to the talks, the
first round of which was held on April 14 in Istanbul, will be asked
to explain why Iran is expanding its enrichment capacity while
attending talks to resolve the crisis.
The termination of uranium enrichment at the Fordo facility is one of
several demands the P5+1 powers (Security Council members the U.S.,
Russia, China, Britain, and France, plus Germany) have presented to
the Iranians during the talks. The powers are also demanding that
Iran stop enriching uranium to 20 percent. In return, Iran is being
offered nuclear fuel for the development of medical isotopes at its
nuclear research plant near Tehran.
Fordo, estimated to be buried beneath 80 meters (265 feet) of rock
and soil, gives Iran better protection against any Israeli or U.S.
military strikes and the shift of nuclear work to the site is of
particular concern for the West.
The last IAEA report, published in February, said Iran had trebled
its output of 20 percent uranium since late 2011 after starting up
production at Fordo.
The new report is not expected to show Iran increasing production.
But the installation of possibly hundreds more centrifuges could set
the stage for that. Such machines spin at supersonic speed to raise
the concentration of the fissile isotope of uranium.
Nuclear bombs require uranium enriched to 90 percent, but much of the
effort required to get there is already achieved once it reaches 20%,
shortening the time needed for any nuclear weapons "break-out".
Iran has steadily increased uranium enrichment since 2007, and now
has enough of the 3.5 and 20% material for four bombs if refined
further, experts say.
"The international community hasn´t done something wrong here. We
haven´t created a suspicious nuclear weapons program that the world
doesn´t know the answers to. Iran has," a senior U.S. official said
early Thursday, after the grueling day of discussions that, at times,
appeared on the verge of breaking down. "They are the party who has
acted to create concerns in the international community."
Iran brought a potent bargaining chip to the table, tentatively
agreeing on the eve of the negotiations to allow U.N. inspectors into
the Parchin military complex southeast of Tehran, where the U.N.
believes Iran ran nuclear explosive tests in 2003. Tehran says
Parchin is not a nuclear site.
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