Replacing the first-generation designs bought from A.Q. Khan. Iran “has ignored four sets of United Nations Security Council resolutions to cease enriching uranium,” knowing the likeliest consequence is the frightful specter of… a fifth UN resolution.
WASHINGTON “” International nuclear inspectors reported on Friday that Iran had finally begun operating a new generation of equipment that over time should give it the capability to produce nuclear fuel much faster, after years of delays made worse by Western sanctions and sabotage.
The equipment, new centrifuges that the inspectors described in a report circulated to members of the International Atomic Energy Agency, is intended to replace balky, breakdown-prone machines whose design Iran first bought from Abdul Qadeer Khan, a Pakistani who illicitly sold production equipment and bomb designs. Five years ago, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran declared that the machinery, which he claimed was made in Iran, would soon be deployed. It became clear that his boast was premature.
Iran has ignored four sets of United Nations Security Council resolutions to cease enriching uranium. But it took until this summer for the country to begin using 54 of the new centrifuges, which the Iranians call the IR-2 and claim were produced entirely in its own small factories.
Because the machines spin much faster than the models they are intended to replace, they could speed Iran’s ability to enrich large quantities of nuclear fuel. The Central Intelligence Agency, in its assessments of Iran’s capabilities, has expressed doubts that the machines shown to inspectors would be used for producing weapons-grade material, but they have warned that the installation at the uranium enrichment complex at Natanz might be intended to work out bugs and that Iran could have secret facilities.
“What worries us is not what the Iranians show the inspectors, but what it tells us about what they know how to produce,” one senior intelligence official said. […]
The report also warned anew of what the I.A.E.A. called “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s program, including suspected work on a “nuclear payload for a missile, about which the agency continues to receive new information.” It did not specify what that information was, and the Iranians have claimed that all such information to the agency is fabricated. A diplomat in Vienna, speaking anonymously under the usual ground rules, said that the language in the report in which the agency says it is “increasingly concerned” over Iran’s refusal to answer questions about the evidence indicated an escalation in the agency”s rhetoric.
“It’s not explosive,” the diplomat said, referring to the report. “But if you”re reading the tea leaves, it stands out.”…