February 1, 2013

Iran planning to hasten enrichment

The Associated Press

VIENNA - In a defiant move ahead of nuclear talks, Iran has announced plans to vastly increase its pace of uranium enrichment, which can make both reactor fuel and the fissile core of warheads. Eager to avoid scuttling those negotiations, world powers are keeping their response low-key.

Iran told the International Atomic Energy Agency of its intentions last week, and the IAEA informed member nations in an internal note seen by The Associated Press on Thursday.

The brief note quoted Iran as saying new-generation IR2m "centrifuge machines ... will be used" to populate a new "unit" -- a technical term for an assembly that can consist of as many as 3,132 centrifuges.

A senior diplomat said work had not started, adding that it would take weeks, if not months, to have the new machines running once technicians started putting them in. He demanded anonymity because he was not authorized to divulge confidential information.

Mark Fitzpatrick, a nonproliferation expert and former senior official at the U.S. State Department, described the planned upgrade as a potential "game-changer."

"If thousands of the more efficient machines are introduced, the timeline for being able to produce a weapon's worth of fissile material will significantly shorten," said Fitzpatrick, of the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

"This won't change the several months it would take to make actual weapons out of the fissile material or the two years or more that it would take to be able to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile, so there is no need to start beating the war drums," he said. "But it will certainly escalate concerns."

 

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)