Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during
the 16th summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in Teheran.
Iran has doubled the number of uranium enrichment
centrifuges it has in an underground bunker, a UN report says,
showing Teheran continued to develop its nuclear programme
despite Western pressure and the threat of an Israeli attack.
In the weeks and months when Israeli politicians increased
their talk of air strikes on Iran's nuclear sites, the
Islamic Republic was rapidly increasing the enrichment
capacity of its Fordow site, buried deep underground to
withstand any such hit.
The UN International Atomic Energy Agency also said in its
quarterly report on Iran that buildings had been demolished
and earth removed at a military site the IAEA wants to
inspect, in what Western diplomats see as a determined effort
by Teheran to remove any evidence of illicit nuclear-linked
These "extensive activities" at the Parchin complex, the
Vienna-based UN agency added, would significantly hamper its
investigation there, if and when inspectors were allowed
In another sign of Iranian stonewalling of the IAEA's inquiry
into suspected atom bomb research, it said "no concrete
results" had been achieved in a series of high-profile
meetings with Iranian officials this year aimed at allaying
concern about the country's nuclear ambitions.
"Iran's continued enrichment activities ... serve to taunt
all those in the international community concerned by Iran's
nuclear programme," a senior Western diplomat said.
The report said that the number of centrifuges at Fordow,
near the holy Shi'ite Muslim city of Qom, about 130 km (80
miles) from the capital Teheran, had more than doubled to
2,140 from 1,064 in May.
The new machines were not yet operating, it said.
Iran's supreme leader repeated this week that Iran's nuclear
programme was entirely peaceful. "Our motto is nuclear energy
for all and nuclear weapons for none," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei
told a developing nations summit in Teheran.
But the expansion in enrichment infrastructure and the
increasing in stockpiles of potent nuclear material revealed
in the report will do nothing to ease fears or reduce the
diplomatic and sanctions pressure on Iran.
The IAEA report may strengthen a belief in Israel - which
sees Iran's nuclear programme as an existential threat - that
the West's tougher economic sanctions against Iran this year
are failing to make Iran curb its nuclear work.
"This report corroborates what (Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin) Netanyahu has been saying for years now," an
Israeli official said, referring to his view that the
diplomatic process had only given Iran more time to pursue
The IAEA said that Iran had produced nearly 190 kg (418
pounds) of higher-grade enriched uranium since 2010, up from
145 kg in May. The total output of low-enriched uranium since
2007 stood at almost 6.9 tonnes, an amount which experts say
would be enough for five bombs or more if refined much
Iran says it needs the higher-grade material - which is much
purer than fuel needed for electricity generation - for a
medical research reactor, but it also takes it significantly
closer to making potential bomb material.
The amount Iran already has would be enough to fuel the
medical reactor for 10 years, an official familiar with the
report said, questioning the need for more such uranium.
The IAEA expressed deepening concerns about Parchin, a
military site south of the capital that it wants to inspect
for evidence of past nuclear weapons development tests.
"Significant ground scraping and landscaping have been
undertaken over an extensive area at and around the
location," it said.
Five buildings had been demolished and power lines, fences
and paved roads removed, the report said, activities that
would hamper its investigation if granted access.
"The activities observed ... further strengthen the agency's
assessment that it is necessary to have access to the
location at Parchin without further delay", the IAEA said.
Iran says Parchin is a conventional military facility and has
dismissed the allegations about it as "ridiculous".
In a letter to the IAEA dated Aug. 29, Iran said "the recent
activities claimed to be conducted" near the site of interest
to the IAEA have "nothing to do with it."
Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi, meeting UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in Teheran on Thursday, was
quoted by Iranian state television as saying: "The West has
put sanctions on Iran for years, however the Iranian nation
continues to resist and make progress."