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Iran to Install Thousands of New Centrifuges for Nuclear Enrichment

By RFE/RL staff | Thu, 31 January 2013 22:36 | 1

Western diplomats say Iran intends to greatly increase the speed of its uranium-enrichment program.

Diplomats told the Associated Press and Reuters on January 31 that Tehran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it plans to install thousands more modern uranium centrifuges at its Natanz nuclear plant.

That could enable Iran to refine uranium two or three times faster than is currently possible.

Reuters quoted nuclear expert Mark Fitzpatrick of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies as saying that the new centrifuges could be "a most unfortunate game changer" depending on the numbers.

Fitzpatrick said if Iran installs a large number of centrifuges it would significantly speed up the timeline for being able to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons.

There are fears Iran intends to build nuclear weapons although Tehran insists its nuclear program is for producing energy and is entirely peaceful.

Related article: Iran on the Offensive

Western diplomats speaking on condition of anonymity said Iran had notified the IAEA, the UN's nuclear monitoring agency, about its plans in a letter dated January 23.

The diplomats said the development also highlights Tehran's defiance in the face of international demands to suspend all enrichment activities. UN Security Council resolutions have imposed sanctions on Iran for refusing to stop its uranium-enrichment program.

However, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov insisted that Iran's installation of the new uranium-enrichment centrifuges does not violate Tehran's obligations to the IAEA.

The Interfax news agency quoted Lavrov as saying that the "IAEA has been notified and the IAEA will be there and [will] supervise it."

Lavrov said the installation of the new centrifuges "is a legalistic aspect of the matter, while the political-legal aspect is that we have called on Iran to freeze enrichment operations during the negotiations."

Related article: Kazakh Uranium: Eastern Giant Attracts Western Attention

Stalled Talks

In Brussels, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton told reporters on January 31 that world powers "continue to try to persuade Iran" to begin talks over Tehran's nuclear program.

"You know that we are in touch with the Iranians to try and organize properly our negotiations and discussions," she said. "So, I don't say and I don't think that we should see this as anything other than a process that is going to be very important. It needs to be done properly and we need to move forward on that. So we have been saying to the Iranians that we want to propose dates and venues in order that we can get the discussions moving as quickly as possible."

The EU is brokering the talks on behalf of the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France, and Germany.

Iran and these world powers have failed to agree on a venue for the next round of talks on Tehran's nuclear program. They have blamed each other for holding up the resumption of negotiations.

A meeting proposed for January 28-29 in Istanbul was postponed. The last round of negotiations in Moscow in June ended without any breakthrough.

By. RFE/RL

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  • Javier on March 16 2013 said:
    ... "The fact is, we don't really know what is going on in Iran."I'm not too sure of that, Christine; word on the steret is that there are a LOT of people feeding us some very valuable information. At least, I hope so.Leap Frog said... "And what is Syria up to lately?"My gut tells me that they are just hanging on to their old job of storing all the WMDs that Saddam wanted to ditch. American Crusader said..."....there is a lot you can do starting with writing your congressman and senators."You bet, and folks, all it takes is a couple of minutes to email them. Make it short, though, because Our Leaders don't look very had at our reasons, they just use our communications as a sort of a poll - "yes" or "no" on a particular issue.You know the expression, "If at first you don't succeed, NAG, NAG, AGAIN!" We succeeded with Dubai, we can succeed here too! "Anyone with Internet connections can check the Manhattan Project timeline. And this was before anyone else had a blueprint to follow."BEAUTIFUL, AC! Absolutely BEAUTIFUL! And they didn't even have the advantage of the Russians feeding them information and materiel! DS said... "I'm pretty sure that USA and Israel are very aware of this and will bomb the hell out of Iran before they really will be able to do anything."Yeah, a lot of us are pretty confident that this is the case; Bush hasn't denied it yet, either, in fact he says nothing is off the table.That's in marked contrast to calling the brave citizens who try to protect our borders "vigilantes." If he didn't like the idea of nuking Iran, he would definitely say something to that effect.Pastorius said... "Another point, which is also obvious, but is not acknowledged is this:People say we can't take out Iran's nukes because they are spread out and underground..."Silly, silly people. It's sort of like saying that a barrier between us and Mexico wouldn't work. Silly, silly people!

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