Diplomats: Iran boosts nuclear work in bunker

February 6, 2012 20:50

VIENNA - Iran is believed to be expanding uranium enrichment activity deep inside a mountain, diplomatic sources said on Monday, a move likely to add to tension with Western powers that suspect Tehran is seeking nuclear weapons capability.

The move to increase sensitive nuclear work at the Fordow underground site near the Shi'ite Muslim holy city of Qom, even if expected, underlines the Islamic state's defiance in the face of intensifying Western pressure to curb such activity.

Iran last month confirmed it had begun refining uranium to a fissile concentration of 20 percent at Fordow, shifting its highest-grade enrichment from an above-ground location to better protect it against any strikes by Israel or the United States.

Washington, which has not ruled out military action against Iran if diplomacy fails to resolve the long-running nuclear dispute, on Jan. 9 denounced the start-up of the Fordow plant as a further escalation of Iran's "ongoing violations" of UN resolutions.

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