Defiant Iran reveals plans to speed up nuclear fuel work
By Fredrik Dahl, ReutersVIENNA -- Iran has announced plans to install advanced uranium enrichment machines in what would be a technological leap allowing it to significantly speed up production of material the West fears could be put to developing nuclear weapons.
February 1, 2013, 1:01 am TWN
In a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Tehran said it would introduce new centrifuges to its main enrichment plant near Natanz, according to an IAEA communication to member states seen by Reuters.
The defiant move will increase concerns in the West and Israel about Iran's nuclear ambitions, which Tehran says are entirely peaceful, and may further complicate efforts by big powers to negotiate curbs on its enrichment programme.
Enriched uranium can fuel nuclear power plants, Iran's stated aim, or provide material for bombs if refined to a high degree, which the West suspects is Tehran's underlying purpose.
“It is certainly a provocation to increase any enrichment capacity at all,” a senior Western diplomat said.
It was not clear how many of the new centrifuges Iran planned to put in place at Natanz, which is designed for tens of thousands of machines, but the wording of the IAEA's note implied it could be up to roughly 3,000.