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IAEA: Iran set to step up enrichment activities

In its latest quarterly report, the International Atomic Energy agency warns that Iran may be set to step up its uranium enrichment activities. It also says it suspects Tehran is trying to cover-up a nuclear test.

The United Nations' nuclear watchdog says Iran may have laid the groundwork for a major expansion of its uranium enrichment activities.

A new International Atomic Energy Agency report says Iran has doubled the number of centrifuges at its underground facility at Fordo. The quarterly report, released on Thursday, puts the current number of centrifuges at the heavily fortified facility at 2,140, up from 1,064 in May. The newly added elements had not yet been put into operation, the report says.

It also says it suspects that Iran is conducting extensive clean up activities at its Parchin military complex - something it says "will have an adverse impact on the agency's ability to undertake effective verification."

The IAEA's inspectors haven't been granted access to Parchin, where Iran is suspected of having tested components for a nuclear warhead.

Iran has repeatedly denied having any intention of developing nuclear weapons.

Meanwhile, the European Union's foreign policy coordinator is set to hold more talks aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear program. Catherine Ashton's spokesman told reporters in Brussels that those talks would take place “in the coming days.”

Ashton represents the group of five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, plus Germany, in negotiations with Iran. The 5 + 1 group, as it is known, is seeking to persuade Iran to stop enriching uranium to 20 percent, which is seen as a key stage on the road to 90 percent enrichment, needed to produce nuclear weapons.

pfd/jr (dpa, Reuters, AFP)