IAEA: Iran Reaches Breakthrough in Suspected Nuclear Weapons Push

UN nuclear watchdog report claims Tehran installs self-made, advanced centrifuges that would protect its nuclear facilities from cyber attacks, such as those reportedly perpetrated by the Stuxnet computer worm.

Yossi Melman head
Yossi Melman
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The United Nations nuclear watchdog released a report Saturday stating that Iran is pursuing the development of nuclear weapons, adding that the Islamic Republic has upgraded its nuclear facilities in order to defend them from possible cyber attacks.

According to the report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has installed new and improved 2IR as well as 4IR centrifuges, which according to experts, will be immune to cyber attacks that were able to breach the older centrifuges.

A worker in the nuclear power plant in Bushehr, Iran. Credit: AP

The centrifuges have allegedly been installed, the report states, in a fortified underground facility for uranium enrichment near the city of Qom.

Although the number of installed centrifuges is relatively small, Iran has stated that it will continued to install additional ones of the same make in order to enrich its uranium supply to a level of 20%.

Experts emphasize that, according to the report, Iran has been able to achieve a technological breakthrough by producing its own centrifuges, despite the sanctions that have been imposed on the state by the UN Security Council.

The sanctions forbid Iran from enriching uranium, as well as obtaining materials for constructing centrifuges.

It seems, however, that Iran has been able to bypass the embargo, and through its own independent acquisition networks, working in clandestine around the work, acquired rare metals and other materials with which it is now building the carbon fiber blades for the centrifuges.

Compared to the old centrifuges, the new ones will allow Iran to enrich larger amounts of uranium at higher quality in a shorter period of time.

It is important to note that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took pride in such developments over five years ago, although, as it turns out, a rather long period of time was needed in order to implement the plan.

The five-year delay shows that despite Irans progress and determination, it is having difficulty advancing its nuclear program at the rate it aspires to.

The IAEA report restates the fact that Iran ignores any Security Council decisions calling on it to halt its uranium enrichment, and that the Islamic Republic only partially cooperates with the organization, while refusing to provide any required documents.

Said documents are needed in order to determine the nature of the states nuclear program, specifically to determine whether Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons alongside its declared program of uranium enrichment.

Furthermore, the report details unnamed intelligence sources, most likely from the West, which claim that Iran is performing a series of actions and experiments, from which it seeks to assemble a nuclear warhead.

The latest report expresses what it called increasing concerns," over Iran's nuclear aspirations, harshening the rhetoric from the organizations previous reports.

The Stuxnet computer worm, attributed, at least by foreign sources, to the Israeli Mossad, allegedly attacked over 1,000 centrifuges in a uranium-enrichment facility in Natanz.

Iran does allow IAEA inspectors to visit most of its nuclear facilities, including those in Qom and Natanz, although the organization suspects that Iran does have secret facilities that are unknown to inspectors, or are located in military facilities, where the IAEA has no legal authority to visit.



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