IAEA: Iran moves production of centrifuges underground

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The construction of a new underground workshop to manufacture parts for uranium enrichment machinery at the Islamic Republic’s Natanz nuclear facility has been revealed by International Atomic Energy Agency director Rafael Magnified.

By Erin Vinner

The workshop was set up in “one of the halls” of the fuel enrichment plant (FEP), the head of the United Nations Nuclear Observatory told a press conference yesterday. Other diplomatic sources say the factory is about three stories underground.

Until now, Iran has only used FEP for enrichment at Natanz, the only facility authorized by the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) to produce enriched uranium, although limited to only first-generation IR-1 centrifuges that are significantly less efficient than Tehran’s most advanced models.

“They said it was ready to go,” IAEA chief inspector Massimo Aparo said of the complex.

Machinery is now in use at the site from a now closed TESA Karaj complex west of Tehran, which suffered what Iran says was a sabotage attack by Israel last June.

“Due to the terrorist operation against the TESA Karaj complex, we had to tighten security and move a significant part of the centrifuges to a safer location,” the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran spokesman said. , Behrouz Kamalvandi, quoted by the Iranian media.

He blamed the lack of attention shown by the IAEA for Israeli “vicious operations” against Iran’s nuclear facilities.

The IAEA informed its member states two weeks ago that Iran had moved the machines to Natanz without specifying where they were placed in the vast facility.

Iran’s latest moves come amid stalled negotiations with world powers in Austria aimed at reviving the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that former US President Donald Trump reneged on in 2018, thinking Tehran had violated the pact in order to develop atomic bombs. The Islamic Republic then violated various restrictions imposed by the agreement on its nuclear activities, such as caps on the purity to which it enriches uranium, its stockpile of enriched materials and the enrichment of uranium at FEP and on other websites.

As the Vienna talks seemed on the verge of reaching an agreement last month, negotiations have been stalled by last-minute demands from Moscow, as well as Tehran’s insistence that Washington withdraw the Guardian Corps from Iran’s Islamic Revolution (IRGC) from its Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) blacklist. .

Israel has consistently warned that its nemesis will try to secure a windfall of sanctions relief in the talks, without backtracking enough on its quest for atomic bombs.

Iranian officials have repeatedly called for the annihilation of Israel.

Israel reserves the right to act to protect itself, underlined Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, in particular by considering a “plan B” of military strikes on Iranian nuclear installations.

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