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

    Top US General: Turkish Media Report ‘Absurd'

    General Dunford rejects ‘irresponsible' claims of coup involvement by former four-star Army General Campbell, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan before retiring earlier this year

    Video Saving Ethiopian Children Thought to Be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at efforts of one African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children

    Protests Over Western Troops Threaten Libyan 'Unity' Government

    Fears mount that Islamist foes of ‘unity' government plan to declare a revolutionaries' council in Tripoli

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora