News / Middle East

    Iran Starts Uranium Enrichment Underground

    Iranian technician at Uranium Conversion Facility outside Isfahan, 255 miles (410 kilometers) south of Tehran, Feb. 2007 (file photo).
    Iranian technician at Uranium Conversion Facility outside Isfahan, 255 miles (410 kilometers) south of Tehran, Feb. 2007 (file photo).

    Iran has confirmed it has started uranium enrichment at a second facility where the material can be upgraded quickly for potential use in a nuclear bomb.

    Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Monday that Tehran is refining uranium at the newly-launched Fordo complex and an older facility in the city of Natanz. Ali Asghar Soltanieh said it was taking place under the supervision of the IAEA. He made his comments to Iran's Arabic language al Alam TV network.

    The U.N. Security Council has imposed four sets of sanctions on Iran for refusing to stop enrichment work, which has civilian and military uses. Western powers accuse Iran of trying to develop an atomic weapons program. Tehran says its nuclear ambitions are peaceful.

    The United States and the European Union have been tightening their own sanctions on Iran to pressure it into suspending enrichment. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said Monday the sanctions will not achieve their goals and vowed to resist the pressure. His remarks were broadcast on state television.

    Earlier Monday, diplomats with ties to the IAEA also confirmed that Iranian centrifuges have begun refining uranium to a purity of 20 percent at Fordo, an underground complex near the Shi'ite holy city of Qom.  

    The Fordo complex is located beneath a mountain and is better protected from potential airstrikes by nations opposed to the Iranian nuclear program. Iran said previously it was preparing to move its highest-grade enrichment work to Fordo from its an above-ground plant in Natanz.

    Most of the work at the Natanz facility has involved refining uranium to a relatively low purity of 3.5 percent. Enrichment to the 20 percent level at the Fordo complex could reduce the time needed for Iran to further refine the material to the 90 percent purity required for nuclear weapons.

    Iran says its nuclear program is designed only to generate electricity and material for medical research.  

    The United States and its ally Israel have not ruled out military action to stop the program.  Israel sees a nuclear-armed Iran as a threat to the Jewish state's existence.

    In a television interview broadcast Sunday, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Iran's nuclear program has not progressed to the stage of building a nuclear bomb. But he warned Iranian leaders that if they take such a step, the United States will stop them.

    Panetta said Washington will continue what he called a "responsible" approach of putting diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran to abstain from developing nuclear weapons. He also advised Israel not to take unilateral action against Iran, saying a "better approach" is to "work together" with the United States on the issue.

    Some information for this report was provided by AfP and Reuters.

    Join the conversation on our social journalism site - Middle East Voices. Follow our Middle East reports on Twitter and discuss them on our Facebook page.

    You May Like

    US Internet Giants, EU Reach Deal to Combat Online Hate Speech

    Facebook, Twitter, Google and Microsoft commit to ‘quickly and efficiently’ act to clamp down on use of social media to incite violence, terror

    Video Tunisia’s Ennahda Party Begins a New Political Chapter

    Party now moves to separate its political and religious activities; change described by party members as pragmatic response to political and economic challenges facing Tunisia today

    Virtual Reality Fine-tuned at Asia Tech Show

    Microchip designers hope to improve resolution for users of systems that can turn your bedroom into the ocean floor

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conferencei
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    May 30, 2016 5:11 PM
    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video Tech Startups Showcase Wares at Amsterdam Conference

    More than 20,000 tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and lovers of digital technology came together in Amsterdam recently at the Next Web Conference to discuss the latest developments in digital technology, look to the future and, of course, to connect. In recent years, there has been an explosion of so-called startup businesses that have created devices and applications that have changed the way we live; but, as Serginho Roosblad reports for VOA, there are pitfalls for such startups as well.
    Video

    Video US Military's Fallen Honored With Flags

    Memorial Day is a long weekend for most Americans. For some, it is the unofficial start of summer -- local swimming pools open and outdoor grilling season begins. But Memorial Day remains true to its origins -- a day to remember the U.S. military's fallen.
    Video

    Video Rolling Thunder Rolls Into Washington

    The Rolling Thunder caravan of motorcycles rolled into Washington Sunday, to support the U.S. military on the country's Memorial Day weekend
    Video

    Video A New Reading Program Pairs Kids with Dogs

    Dogs, it is said, are man's best friend. What some researchers have discovered is that they can also be a friend to a struggling reader. A group called Intermountain Therapy Animals trains dogs to help all kinds of kids with reading problems — from those with special needs to those for whom English is a second language. Faiza Elmasry has more on the New York chapter of R.E.A.D., or Reading Education Assistance Dogs, in this piece narrated by Faith Lapidus.
    Video

    Video Fan Base Grows for Fictional Wyoming Sheriff Longmire

    Around the world, the most enduring symbol of the U.S. is that of the cowboy. A very small percentage of Americans live in Western rural areas, and fewer still are cowboys. But the fascination with the American West is kept alive by such cultural offerings as “Longmire,” a series of books and TV episodes about a fictional Wyoming sheriff. VOA’s Greg Flakus recently spoke with Longmire’s creator, Craig Johnson, and filed this report from Houston.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora