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Iran reportedly installs hundreds of new uranium enrichment machines

JTA

August 24, 2012 | 10:30 am

Iranian International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh briefs the media after a meeting with IAEA's chief inspector Herman Nackaerts at the Iranian embassy in Vienna on Aug. 24. Photo by REUTERS/Herwig Prammer

Iranian International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh briefs the media after a meeting with IAEA's chief inspector Herman Nackaerts at the Iranian embassy in Vienna on Aug. 24. Photo by REUTERS/Herwig Prammer

Iran may have installed as many as “hundreds of new” uranium enrichment machines in its underground nuclear facility at Fordow.

“Our basic understanding is that they were continuing to install,” Reuters quotes an unnamed diplomat based in Vienna as saying.

The new centrifuges were not yet operating, according to the Reuters report. Another source spoke of “hundreds of new machines.”

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is scheduled to release a report on Iran’s nuclear program next week. Talks between IAEA representatives and Iranian delegates resume on Friday at the agency’s headquarters in the Austrian capital.

If the Reuters report matches the conclusions of the UN atomic watchdog report, the development could be seen as a sign of Iran’s continued defiance of international demands to curb its nuclear program.

The fresh round of talks follow discussions that ended in failure in June.

The IAEA negotiations are separate from talks between Iran and world powers, which have made little progress since restarting in April after a 15-month hiatus.

Israel and other Western countries believe the Iranian nuclear program is aimed at building nuclear weapons. Tehran repeatedly says that its nuclear activity is a domestic energy creating program and for peaceful research.

During next week’s talks in Vienna, the parties also are expected to discuss claims that Iran is cleaning up facilities at its Parchin site near Tehran, allegedly to remove any sign of illicit nuclear activity. In the past, Tehran has dismissed allegations about Parchin, which it says is a normal military site.

The IAEA suspects Iran has conducted tests with a military dimension at Parchin; the talks with IAEA officials are expected to again press Iran for access to the site.

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