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Iran Pushing to Upgrade Enrichment Gear: IAEA

February 19, 2011 1 comment

A forthcoming International Atomic Energy Agency report asserts Iran is pushing to replace thousands of its uranium enrichment centrifuges with newer carbon-fiber machines capable of operating five times faster than their predecessors, the Wall Street Journal reported today (see GSN, Feb. 17).

(Feb. 18) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveils an experimental uranium enrichment centrifuge at a ceremony in Tehran last year. A forthcoming International Atomic Energy Agency report says Iran is working to deploy a new line of higher-speed centrifuges, according to diplomats (Behrouz Mehri/Getty Images).

Iran was purging electronics from its Natanz uranium enrichment complex and other atomic facilities after what appears to be an unsuccessful attempt to locate the origin of the Stuxnet computer worm infecting the sites, said diplomats with knowledge of the “militarization report” requested by IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano. Moving in new equipment might take as long as two years, the diplomats said.

Deploying its experimental carbon-fiber in large numbers could enable Iran to produce sufficient material for a nuclear weapon in under 12 weeks, Germany determined in an official assessment. The United States and its allies have expressed concern that Iran’s uranium enrichment program could generate nuclear-weapon material; Tehran has insisted its atomic ambitions are strictly peaceful (David Crawford, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 18).

Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury Department yesterday blacklisted an Iranian bank believed to be supporting the organization managing Read more…