Sunday, November 29, 2009

Iran approves 10 new enrichment sites

Is any one really surprised?

From the Jerusalem Post:

Iran approves 10 new enrichment sites

The Iranian government approved a plan Sunday to build 10 new uranium enrichment facilities, a dramatic expansion in defiance of UN demands it halt the program.

The decision came only days after the UN nuclear watchdog agency censured Iran over its program , demanding it immediately stop building a newly revealed enrichment facility near the holy city of Qom and freeze all uranium enrichment activities.

A Cabinet meeting headed by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ordered the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran to begin building five uranium enrichment sites that have already been studied and propose five other locations for future construction within two months.

In Vienna, spokeswoman Gillian Tudor said the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency would have no comment, but the announcement is likely to stoke already high tensions between Iran and the West over its controversial nuclear activities.


* Teheran threatens to cut ties with IAEA
* United States and Israel commend IAEA censure of Iran
* Analysis: Dangerously misreading Iran

Iran has one industrial-scale uranium enrichment plant near Natanz, in central Iran. The IAEA said earlier this month that about 8,600 centrifuges had been set up in Natanz, but only about 4,000 were enriching uranium. The facility will eventually house 54,000 centrifuges.

The newly revealed enrichment site, known as Fordo, is a small scale site that will house nearly 3,000 centrifuges.

IRNA said the Cabinet ordered that the 10 new sites have a scale equal to Natanz's.

Under Iranian law, Iran's nuclear agency has been tasked with providing 20,000 megawatts of electricity through nuclear power plants during in the next 20 years. IRNA said the country needs to build enrichment facilities to produce nuclear fuel for its future power plants.

Ahmadinejad told the Cabinet that Iran will need to install 500,000 centrifuges throughout the planned enrichment facilities to produce between 250 to 300 tons of fuel annually.

Also Sunday, Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani issued a warning of his own that Teheran may cut cooperation with the UN nuclear agency watchdog.

"If the West continues to pressure us, then parliament can review Iran's cooperation level with the IAEA," he told the assembly.

According to Larijani, "If the Western powers continue to use the ridiculous policy of sticks and carrots, Teheran too will form a new type of relationship with the West."

The US and Israel expressed satisfaction over the weekend with what officials from both countries termed "a growing momentum" of international pressure on Iran to halt activities that would enable it to construct nuclear weapons.

On Friday, the IAEA resolution censuring Iran passed by a 25-3 margin, demanding that Teheran immediately freeze construction of its newly revealed nuclear facility and heed Security Council resolutions to stop uranium enrichment.

Hilary Leila Krieger and Haviv Rettig Gur contributed to this report

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