One will recall that the original deadline was June 29 for Iran to respond to the incentives package proposal, some of which it is apparently receiving anyway in spite of its lack of compliance. Western diplomats said they would expect that response in “weeks, not months.” Nearly four months later, nothing has happened.
Well, one thing has: Iran has expanded its capacity to enrich uranium, the very thing it was supposed to stop. “Iran expands controversial nuclear work,” by Nasser Karimi, from AP:
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran has expanded its controversial nuclear work by starting a second cascade of centrifuges to enrich uranium, a semiofficial news agency reported Wednesday
The news came as world powers moved toward introducing a draft resolution in the U.N. Security Council that would impose limited sanctions on Iran because of its refusal to cease enrichment — a process that can produce material for nuclear power
reactors or weapons.
The Iranian Students News Agency quoted an anonymous official Wednesday as saying that Iran had started a second cascade of centrifuges two weeks ago and that “gas will be injected into the cascade during the current week.”
“We will exploit the new product from the injection,” ISNA quoted the official as saying, meaning that Iran would use the enriched uranium obtained by inserting gas into the centrifuges.
The report could not be immediately corroborated as Iranian officials were on holiday for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Fitr that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
Neither the official Islamic Republic News Agency nor state television and radio carried the report by ISNA, an agency that receives state funding via the national universities.
Diplomats in Vienna said this week that Iran has started its second cascade of centrifuges in Natanz. The move violates a resolution of the International Atomic Energy Agency, a U.N. watchdog group that has required that Iran cease all enrichment-related activity.
Iran produced a small batch of enriched uranium in February from a cascade of 164 centrifuges at its nuclear plant at Natanz in central Iran. Iran says it plans to install 3,000 centrifuges at Natanz by the end of this year.
Production of enough uranium to fuel a reactor would require 54,000 centrifuges. Although Iran is nowhere near that goal, its successful operation of more cascades of centrifuges indicates the country is gradually mastering the complexities of producing enriched uranium.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Monday his country’s nuclear capability had increased tenfold despite Western pressure to curb its atomic program.
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 International Atomic Energy Agency.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there is “no choice” but to pursue sanctions against Iran after Tehran’s refusal to halt uranium enrichment.
China and Russia, which can veto Security Council resolutions, are reportedly pushing for continued dialogue with Iran instead of punishment.