Iran nuclear crisis: Fordo capacity doubled - IAEA

Satellite image provided by GeoEye in September 2009 showing facility under construction inside a mountain some 20 miles (32km) north-east of Qom, Iran Construction of the Fordo site was revealed by satellite images in 2009

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN's nuclear watchdog, says Iran has doubled production capacity at the Fordo nuclear site.

The latest IAEA quarterly report also said Iran had "significantly hampered" the agency's ability to inspect the Parchin military site.

Iran has produced 189kg (417 lb) of higher-grade enriched uranium since 2010, it added.

Iran denies its nuclear programme has any military aspect.

The number of enrichment centrifuges at Fordo, at a facility buried deep inside a mountain near the holy city of Qom, had more than doubled to 2,140 from 1,064 in May, the IAEA said.

However, the new machines were not yet operating, it said.

Iran says the aim of the Fordo site is to enrich uranium for civilian use up to a maximum of 20%.

In May, UN nuclear inspectors found traces of uranium enriched at 27% at the site, but Iran said those readings could be accidental.

Analysts say 27% would bring Iran closer to making weapons-grade uranium.

Although the new centrifuges are not yet operating, their installation will worry Israel, says the BBC's James Reynolds.

The Israeli government fears that Iran is developing its nuclear capabilities in a location which may be safe from Israeli air strikes.

In Thursday's report, the IAEA also said the Parchin site had been "sanitised" and that Iran had "been conducting activities at that location that will significantly hamper the agency's ability to conduct effective verification", if inspectors were granted access.

The Parchin site is suspected of being used for experiments related to nuclear weapons.

The overall Parchin complex is one of Iran's leading munitions centres - for the research, development and production of ammunition, rockets and high explosives.

Iran says it needs nuclear material for energy and medical needs.

But in this report, the IAEA concludes that it is unable to say that all nuclear material in Iran is for peaceful activities, our correspondent says.

More on This Story

Rouhani's Iran

More Middle East stories

RSS

Features

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.