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

US Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
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 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 Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
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 Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
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 California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
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.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs