Thursday, February 21, 2013

U.N. gets conflicting signals from Iran’s nuclear facilities ahead of talks

By Joby Warrick, WashPost, Thursday, February 21, 2:54 PM

Days before the start of crucial talks with world powers, Iran appears to be simultaneously hitting the gas and brake pedals on its nuclear program, speeding up production of enriched uranium while limiting its stockpile of the type of fuel that could be easily converted for use in atomic bombs, U.N. officials said in a new report.

International inspectors who visited Iran’s nuclear facilities last month confirmed that Tehran has begun installing hundreds of second-generation centrifuges that could dramatically increase its capacity to produce enriched uranium, the International Atomic Energy Agency said in a report leaked to journalists Thursday.

The new IR-2m machines are four times as productive as Iran’s existing centrifuges, which convert uranium gas into the enriched fuel that can be used in civilian power plants or nuclear weapons, intelligence officials and nuclear experts say.

Iran told the IAEA last month that it intended to install the more powerful machines, prompting warnings from Western governments that Tehran is moving rapidly toward a nuclear-weapons capability. On Thursday, the Obama administration said Iran’s latest advance, while expected, was provocative.

(More here.)


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