11/15/2013, 00.00
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IAEA report: with Rouhani, Iran substantially slows nuclear programme

Between August and September, Iran only put four rudimentary centrifuges to the Natanz plant. In the previous quarter, it had added more than 1,800 new centrifuges into the plant. The cut is the result of reformist President Rouhani's new policies. The UN report reopens the door to an agreement between Iran and the 5+1 group over Tehran's nuclear programme. For Israel, the Islamic Republic is already capable of producing nuclear weapons.

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) - President Hassan Rouhani's election has slowed Iran's nuclear development, this according to the latest quarterly report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which was released after IAEA's director-general, Yukiya Amano, met the head of Iran's Atomic Energy, Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran's nuclear agency, in Tehran on Monday.

The UN report comes after the partial failure of talks in Geneva between Iran and the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany. Despite the cautious optimism going into the Geneva meeting, negotiations ended once more without a resolution, because of French opposition. The parties are set to meet again next week.

In the AIEA's latest quarterly report, Iran added only four rudimentary centrifuges to its main uranium enrichment plant at Natanz since August, for a total of 15,240 - 10,000 of which are in operation. In the previous reporting period of May to August, it had added more than 1,800 new centrifuges.

According to the UN agency, the Iranians now have a stockpile of more than 7,000 kilograms of uranium enriched to 5 per cent U-235, and 196 kilograms stockpile of 20 per cent uranium.

This amount is still not enough for weapon development, and falls short of Israel's "red line" of 240 kilograms. Tehran also does not have the technological capacity to further enrich its stockpile of U-235.

Speaking to an audience of young Diaspora Jews, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cast doubts on Iran's slower nuclear programme. For him, the reason Iran is not expanding it is because it already has the infrastructure necessary to build a nuclear weapon.

In view of this, "The question is not whether they are expanding their nuclear operations," the Prime Minister said, "but rather how to stop the Iranian military nuclear programme."

By contrast, Tehran's overtures on its nuclear program in exchange for a partial lifting of economic sanctions changed the attitude of the United States and other members of the UN Security Council.

Yesterday, President Barack Obama tried to appeal to Congress to shelve plans by Republican lawmakers for new sanctions against Iran.

"If we're serious about pursuing diplomacy, then there's no need for us to add new sanctions on top of the sanctions that are already very effective, and that brought them (the Iranians) to the table in the first place," Obama told a White House news conference.

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See also
IAEA deputy director general in Tehran, UN discusses new sanctions
Iranian reaction to six-power offer "positive"
Tehran open to "dialogue", mum on uranium enrichment
As UN deadline expires Tehran set to continue its nuclear programme
Divided but not yet opposed Security Council members examine Iranian nuclear threat


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