iran nuclear new 224.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
Iran has overcome technological hurdles and is now enriching uranium at a far larger scale then ever before, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
The report cited an inspection notice by International Atomic Energy Agency officials, which noted that inspectors visiting Iran's main nuclear facility in Natanz Sunday found that Iranian engineers were already using an estimated 1,300 centrifuges and were producing fuel suitable for nuclear reactors.
Given that the inspection conducted on Sunday took place at only two hours' notice, it is unlikely that the Iranians turned on their centrifuges in order to impress the inspectors, the report said. The Times also noted that diplomats familiar with the inspector's report said that 300 more centrifuges were being tested and could be operational within the week.
While there was nothing new in the report of the large number of Iranian centrifuges already in place, the inspector's report revealed that these centrifuges are now enriching uranium and running smoothly.
In late April, Iran's top nuclear negotiator said that talks with a senior EU official had brought them closer to "a united view" of how to break a deadlock over Teheran's defiance of a UN Security Council demand to freeze uranium enrichment.
The comments by Ali Larijani boosted hopes that he and Javier Solana, the European Union's top foreign policy official, had chipped away at differences over enrichment - a potential pathway to nuclear arms - in two days of talks.
In their conversation, there was also mention of a 'double time out' - a freeze of enrichment activities in exchange for a commitment not to impose new UN sanctions, said the official.
The 'double time out' concept is supported by International Atomic Energy Agency chief Muhamad ElBaradei and is part of a confidential document shared with the AP.
The one-page document, based on a Swiss initiative, proposes that "Iran will not develop any further its enrichment activities" while the six powers negotiating with Iran "will not table any additional UN resolutions and sanctions."
Diplomats said the document is opposed by the United States, Britain and France, but that parts of it could nonetheless serve as the basis for a later agreement that could lead to formal negotiations.