Thursday, 14 July 2011

Iran is moving its nuclear programme to a new facility

Reports have emerged that Iran is moving its nuclear programme to a new facility located inside a mountain near Qom, which can withstand air and missile strikes. Iran disclosed the Fowrdow facility's location after Western intelligence sources reported its existence.

Speaking about the developments in the Islamic Republic to The Daily Telegraph, former head of UN nuclear inspections Olli Heinonen, said: “We see Iran moving in the direction of becoming a nuclear weapons capable state.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has expressed concern over the move, and Iran's plans to start operation enrichment centrifuges at Fordow "by this summer".

UK's Foreign Secretary William Hague said Iran would need less than three months to turn the enriched uranium into weapons grade material at Fordow. He warned that the country's claims to "allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring is not a safeguard," because "Iran has a persistent record of evasion and obfuscation with the IAEA."

In a bid to counteract Western fears, Iran's Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said the country has disavowed its nuclear weapons. He noted: "Our Supreme Leader has explained that the production and use of atomic weapons is wrong, not only in terms of foreign policy but on religious grounds.”

Iran says it needs 20 per cent uranium to make fuel for a medical re-search reactor near Tehran after the failure of talks on a deal that would have seen foreign countries supply the material.

Sources: PressTV, The Daily Telegraph, Voice of America

For more news and expert analysis about Iran, please see Iran Strategic Focus.

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