02/22/2013, 00.00
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Tehran installs new more powerful centrifuges to enrich uranium

IAEA reports findings. If used, they could boost fissile material production five-fold. Next Tuesday, Iran is set to meet the 5+1 group for talks.

Tehran (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Iran has begun installing a new generation of centrifuges in Natanz (central Iran) that could give it the ability to produce nuclear fuel much faster. This comes from a confidential report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) only a few days before talks were to resume between Iran and the 5+1 group (China, France, Great Britain, Russia, the United States, plus Germany) in Almaty (Kazakhstan) next Tuesday.

The report says that IR-2 centrifuges were installed on 6 February. They are more powerful than the previous generation, IR-1, but are not yet operational.

Once that happens, they can increase the production of 20 per cent enriched uranium five times. At present, Iran has 167 kg of fissile material, used in scientific research and for medical purposes.

Israel and Western powers accuse Iran of planning to develop nuclear weapons. To do so, it would need 240 kg of enriched uranium per bomb.

Back in December, Tehran restarted enriching uranium to make fuel for its nuclear power plants. The IAEA too is concerned that it might build nuclear weapons. Suspicions have fallen on Parchin, a military site officially being decommissioned but still usable for missile tests.

Iranian authorities have denied IAEA inspectors access to the site. In a recent visit to the Bushehr nuclear plant, Iranian officials told them that the reactor in Parchin had been dismantled.

Per Vali Nasr, dean of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies in Washington and a former advisor to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the West is using a wrong approach.

More sanctions and bans on Iranian banks, many not involved with President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's nuclear plans, have led to an impasse. Without the possibility of selling its oil to its fullest, nuclear energy has become crucial to prevent economic collapse.

The only way to break the impasse "is to be serious about diplomacy," which is "difficult, time-consuming, and could take years," said Vali Nasr.

The US needs to negotiate "in a concrete way" toward eventually lifting oil sanctions and permitting Iran to conduct low-level, 5 per cent enrichment solely for power plants, under appropriate safeguards.


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See also
IAEA reports "significant progress" in Iran's uranium enrichment programme
God will take Iranians to task if they abandon their nuclear programme, Khamenei says
Ahmadinejad calls for public debate with Obama, yet keeps to same track on nuclear issue
Tehran offers its nuclear technology to all Muslim countries
Tokyo to demand total nuclear power ban on Pyongyang


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