Iran Nuclear NewsFoes say Tehran builds fast uranium centrifuges

Foes say Tehran builds fast uranium centrifuges

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New York Times: An Iranian opposition group said here on Thursday that Iran had built at least 15 advanced uranium enrichment machines that could speed production of nuclear fuel and asserted that the country would have hundreds more by next year. The New York Times

By CRAIG S. SMITH
Published: August 25, 2006

PARIS, Aug. 24 — An Iranian opposition group said here on Thursday that Iran had built at least 15 advanced uranium enrichment machines that could speed production of nuclear fuel and asserted that the country would have hundreds more by next year.

The group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, has been correct before. In August 2002, its announcement that Tehran was pursuing a secret uranium enrichment program led in part to the current standoff over the Iranian nuclear development program. But many of the group’s subsequent disclosures have been either less significant or wrong.

Iran faces possible United Nations sanctions if it fails to stop enriching uranium by Aug. 31. Iran says it will use the nuclear fuel to generate power, but the international community fears that the program is designed to provide fuel for nuclear weapons.

The National Council of Resistance is the political wing of the People’s Mujahedeen of Iran, whose goal is to overthrow the Islamic Republic by force. The National Council said Thursday that Tehran was making advanced centrifuges, known as model P-2, at a secret site run by the “Iran Centrifuge Technology Company.” Iran has already been enriching uranium with slower P-1 centrifuges, made from an older design.

A spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations unit that has tried to monitor Iran’s program, said it could not immediately comment on the report. But he said there had been longstanding concern that Iran was developing the more advanced centrifuge.

The agency has repeatedly asked Iran for information, but Iran has insisted that it abandoned work on the P-2 centrifuge three years ago. Then in April, Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, announced that Tehran was “presently conducting research” on the P-2 and boasted that it would quadruple Iran’s enrichment powers.

The agency subsequently wrote to the Iranians demanding an explanation. They have not replied.

The opposition group said Thursday that an enrichment expert named Jafar Mohammadi was head of the centrifuge manufacturer, whose headquarters it said were on the third floor of No. 1 37th Street in Tehran’s Yousef Abad district. It said the centrifuges were assembled in three large hangars “on a side road about three kilometers from Tehran-Pars Junction on the Tehran-Damavand Highway.”

“According to the information obtained by the Iranian Resistance, at least 15 P-2 centrifuges have been assembled so far and are being tested,” Mohammad Mohaddessin, a spokesman for the group, told a news conference here. He said the group’s intelligence showed that within the next year Iran would have “hundreds of P-2 centrifuges.”

The Iranian government has not responded to the group’s announcement.

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