AP: Iran is set to run almost 3,000 centrifuges by the end of the month, nearing the threshold for industrial-scale uranium enrichment in its contested nuclear program, French diplomatic officials said Wednesday. The Associated Press
PARIS (AP) Iran is set to run almost 3,000 centrifuges by the end of the month, nearing the threshold for industrial-scale uranium enrichment in its contested nuclear program, French diplomatic officials said Wednesday.
The revelation, based on a memo from the International Atomic Energy Agency received in Paris on Wednesday, comes as France steps up its campaign for new European Union sanctions against Tehran.
The telegram from IAEA headquarters in Vienna, indicated that the agency believes Iran will have 18 cascades running by the end of October or the equivalent of just under 3,000 centrifuges, French officials said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
France, the United States and other Western nations fear that Tehran’s nuclear program masks designs to build bombs. Iran says its intentions are peaceful, aimed at producing electricity.
Tehran has already declared a goal of operating 3,000 centrifuges, which Western diplomats say would be enough to produce a nuclear bomb per year.
Iranian leaders have said their country will never give up plans to assemble an industrial-scale program, possibly including more than 50,000 centrifuges. That scale would be enough to produce the fissile core of dozens of weapons a year if Iran goes that route. Tehran insists its enrichment program is geared purely toward producing power, but international mistrust triggered by nearly two decades of secret nuclear activities including experiments that could be linked to a weapons program have prompted the U.N. Security Council to impose two sets of sanctions over the country’s refusal to scrap the program.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, in a letter to EU counterparts on Tuesday, called on them to study new sanctions to “increase the pressure” against Iran to honor by Council demands that it suspend “sensitive activities.”
Kouchner said sanctions could target new companies “particularly in the banking sector” and new individuals beyond those whose assets are frozen or those who face visa bans under current EU penalties.
“The clock is ticking,” he wrote. “If we want to be able to obtain a negotiated solution with Iran, we cannot wait without reacting until we are faced with an Iranian fait accompli.”