News / Middle East

Diplomats: Iran Adds to Atom Capacity

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a debate in parliament on his proposed cabinet, in Tehran August 12, 2013.Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a debate in parliament on his proposed cabinet, in Tehran August 12, 2013.
x
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a debate in parliament on his proposed cabinet, in Tehran August 12, 2013.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a debate in parliament on his proposed cabinet, in Tehran August 12, 2013.
Reuters
A report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog is expected to show that  Iran is pressing ahead with its nuclear program by further increasing its capacity to enrich uranium, diplomats said on Monday.
 
They said Iran also appears to have started making fuel for a heavy-water reactor that could produce plutonium, a development that concerns the West because of its potential to be used in a nuclear weapon.
 
On the other hand, the diplomats said this week's report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is also likely to include data showing that Iran is limiting growth of its most sensitive nuclear stockpile, a step that could buy time for negotiations with major powers.
 
If confirmed, such findings would give a mixed picture of Iran's atomic activities at a time when the outside world is waiting to see if its new president, Hassan Rouhani, will move to ease tension with the Islamic Republic's Western critics.
 
Iran says its nuclear program is for power generation and medical purposes only, rejecting Western allegations that it seeks the capability to make atomic arms.
 
Israel has threatened to attack Iran if diplomacy fails to curb its program and it amasses enough medium-enriched uranium to make a nuclear weapon, if processed further. But the election in June of the relative moderate Rouhani has raised Western hopes of breaking a deadlock in talks to address the decade-old nuclear dispute.
 
Installing centrifuges
 
Envoys accredited to the IAEA cautioned against reading too much into the U.N.'s quarterly report, expected to be issued to member states on Wednesday, as it will mainly cover developments before Rouhani took office in early August.
 
It is expected to say that Iran has continued to install both first-generation IR-1 centrifuges and advanced IR-2m machines, the Western diplomats said.
 
Centrifuges spin at supersonic speed to produce enriched uranium, which Iran says it needs to fuel a planned network of nuclear power plants. But if further processed, uranium can also provide the explosive core of a nuclear bomb.
 
Outgoing nuclear energy chief Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, a hardliner whom Rouhani has replaced with a pragmatist, said this month that Iran now has about 1,000 IR-2m centrifuges - a statement the diplomats said seemed credible.
 
Though the advanced machines are not yet believed to be operating, the report will be scrutinized for any sign of increased readiness to go into service, they said.
 
Abbasi-Davani's comments suggested, however, that the pace of IR-1 installation may have slowed from early this year.
 
A U.S. security institute last month said it believes that Iran by mid-2014 will have the capability to produce, without being detected, sufficient weapons-grade uranium from its declared low-enriched stock for a nuclear explosive.
 
“Iran would achieve this capability principally by implementing its existing, firm plans to install thousands more IR-1 centrifuges and perhaps a few thousand IR-2m centrifuges,” the Institute for Science and International Security said.
 
Rouhani, a former nuclear negotiator who oversaw a previous deal to suspend Iran's uranium enrichment, has pledged to improve ties with the outside world. But he insists on Tehran's right to refine uranium.
 
The diplomats said they believed Iran had continued converting some of its most controversial nuclear material - uranium gas refined to a fissile concentration of 20 percent - to make fuel for a medical research reactor in Tehran.
 
As a result, Iran's holding of 20 percent uranium gas is expected to show little growth since the IAEA's previous report in May and remain well below the 240-250 kg (529 to 551 lb) needed for a bomb.
 
This stock is closely watched in the West as it represents a short technical step from weapons-grade uranium.
 
Iran is also believed to have begun producing fuel for another research reactor, Arak, which Western experts say could yield plutonium for bombs once operational, diplomats said. Iran says Arak will make isotopes for medical and agricultural use.
 
Iran plans to commission the heavy-water research reactor in the first quarter of 2014. Israel, widely believed to be the Middle East's only nuclear-armed power, has bombed such construction sites in the region before - in Iraq in 1981 and in Syria in 2007.

You May Like

Beloved Lion Killing Sparks Virtual, Real Life Outrage

Twitter, as usual, was epicenter for anger directed at Palmer, with some questioning his manhood, calling for him to be released into the wild More

Video Booming London Property Market a Haven for Dirty Money

Billions of dollars from proceeds of crime, especially from Russia, being laundered through London property market, according to anti-corruption activists More

Video Scouts' Decision on Gays Meets Acceptance in Founder's Hometown

One former Scout leader thinks organization will move past political, social debate, get back to its primary focus of turning boys into good citizens More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs