Skip to comments.Iran doubles nuke enrichment capacity
Posted on 10/27/2006 11:19:40 AM PDT by NormsRevenge
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran has doubled its capacity to enrich uranium by successfully executing the process with a second network of centrifuges, a semiofficial news agency reported Friday, sending a defiant new message to the U.N. Security Council.
Council members are working on a draft resolution that would impose limited sanctions on the Islamic republic because of its refusal to cease enrichment, a process that can produce fuel for a civilian nuclear reactor or fissile material for a warhead.
The Iranian Students News Agency quoted an anonymous official as saying Iran has successfully begun injecting gas into a second network of centrifuges.
"We are injecting gas into the second cascade, which we installed two weeks ago," the official said, according to ISNA.
The news agency said the second cascade had doubled Iran's capacity to enrich uranium.
"We have already exploited the product of the second cascade," the official was quoted as saying.
Iranian authorities are believed to leak ISNA information that they want published but consider too sensitive for release to official media.
France's Foreign Ministry called Iran's expansion of its nuclear program a "negative signal" that should be taken to account at U.N. talks over possible sanctions.
A spokesman for the ministry, Jean-Baptiste Mattei, said the Iranian announcement was not a great surprise because the International Atomic Energy Agency had said in August that Iran was developing new nuclear capacities.
"The door to negotiations is always open, but at the same time the priority goes to the negotiations for a U.N. Security Council resolution," Mattei said at a news conference.
French President Jacques Chirac, meanwhile, expressed support for sanctions against Iran but insisted that they be temporary and reversible.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Iran's action was not a cause for worry.
"I don't share concerns on this account," Ivanov told reporters, adding that a second network of centrifuges launched by Iran was under IAEA supervision. "It's premature to talk of uranium enrichment or of military uranium."
Russia has strong commercial ties to Tehran, with a $1 billion contract to build Iran's first nuclear power station.
In a separate report on Friday, ISNA quoted Ali Larijani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, as saying his country's enrichment program should not hinder negotiations with the West.
"It is possible to review both nuclear and regional issues through negotiation," Larijani was quoted as saying.
Larijani called for an open negotiation on the enrichment issue, and blamed the West of being irrational in its opposition to an Iranian nuclear program, which Tehran says is geared toward purely civilian use.
Diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to divulge the information to media, told The Associated Press on Monday that even the decision to "dry test" the 164 centrifuges in the second Iranian pilot enrichment facility showed Iran's defiance of the Security Council. The council had set an Aug. 31 deadline for Tehran to cease all experiments linked to enrichment.
Iran produced a small batch of low-enriched uranium suitable as nuclear fuel but not weapons grade in February, using its initial cascade of 164 centrifuges at its pilot plant at Natanz.
The Iran official quoted by ISNA said the nuclear watchdog was fully aware that Tehran was injecting the gas in its new centrifuges, and that nuclear inspectors had already arrived in Iran.
The Vienna, Austria-based IAEA would not comment on the report.
Iran says it plans to install 3,000 centrifuges at Natanz by the end of this year. Some 54,000 centrifuges would be required to produce enough nuclear fuel for a reactor.
Although Iran is nowhere near that goal, its successful operation of more cascades of centrifuges indicates that the country is gradually mastering the complexities of producing enriched uranium.
The United States accuses Iran of secretly trying to build an atomic bomb under the guise of a civilian nuclear program. But Iran denies this, saying its program is strictly for the generation of electricity.
The U.S. and its European allies are circulating a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that would ban the sale of missile and nuclear technology to Iran and deny the country certain assistance from the U.N. nuclear watchdog.
China and Russia, which can veto Security Council resolutions, are reportedly pushing for continued dialogue with Iran instead of punishment.
The enrichment process takes gas produced from raw uranium and aims to increase its proportion of the uranium-235 isotope, needed for nuclear fission.
The gas is pumped into a centrifuge, which spins, causing a small portion of the heavier, more prevalent uranium-238 isotope to drop away. The gas then proceeds to other centrifuges thousands of them where the process is repeated, increasing the proportion of uranium-235.
Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, who is also Iran's Sercretary of Supreme National Security Council, shown in Tehran, Iran, in an April 25, 2006 file photo. Iran has doubled its capacity to enrich uranium by successfully executing the process with a second network of centrifuges, a semiofficial news agency reported Friday, sending a defiant new message to the U.N. Security Council. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, seen here on 22 October 2006. Six major powers huddled behind closed doors to review a draft UN Security Council resolution mandating sanctions against Iran over its refusal to halt sensitive nuclear fuel work.(AFP/File/Atta Kenare)
It's for the children.
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Christian news and commentary at: sacredscoop.com ...
HUMINT: Somthing tells me Mohamed ElBaradei will contiue his assistance.
Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the IAEA, left, shakes hands with Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, at the start of their meeting today in Tehran, Iran. (AP)
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