IAEA says Iran speeding up unranium enrichment | News | DW | 24.02.2012
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IAEA says Iran speeding up unranium enrichment

A report by the UN's nuclear watchdog says Iran has been sharply stepping up its controversial nuclear program, heightening fears it may be close to building a nuclear bomb.

Iran has greatly accelerated its production of enriched uranium over the last four months despite increased international pressure to give up its nuclear program entirely, a report by the United Nation's nuclear agency said Friday.

Representatives from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visited Iran this week to inspect Iran's nuclear facilities and to get answers from the government on fears the country is planning to build a nuclear weapon.

The confidential quarterly report obtained by multiple news agencies cites "serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program."

Uranium enrichment has been increased at the main nuclear site near the central city of Natanz, as well as at the underground Fordow facility, the report said. The latter is of special concern to Western nations and Israel, as the site is much more protected from a potential military strike.

The IAEA also said Iran failed to back up with evidence its claims that the nuclear program is purely for peaceful purposes - to generate energy and conduct research. Specifically, officials failed to explain the whereabouts of a missing quantity of uranium large enough to be used in experiments in arming a nuclear missile.

The report comes less than a month after the European Union approved an all-out ban on imports of Iranian oil, which is to come into effect this summer. The United States also recently toughened its sanctions on Iran's central bank.

acb/msh (Reuters, AP)