Iran has resumed production of advanced centrifuges, which could be used in a secret nuclear weapons program, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing diplomats familiar with Tehran's activities.
Iran has refused access to the facility where production is said to have been renewed by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Iran claimed that Israel was behind a June sabotage attack at the site, located in the city of Karaj.
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Diplomats are concerned that the centrifuge parts could be diverted into a weapons program, according to the newspaper. They noted that there was no evidence that it had done so, however – but one diplomat told the newspaper that “as the number of unmonitored centrifuges increases, the likelihood for this scenario increases."
Tehran has produced parts for at least 170 advanced centrifuges since late August, the Wall Street Journal quoted one diplomat as saying.
In September, Iran acknowledged that it had removed several surveillance cameras installed at the site by UN nuclear inspectors.
In July, Iran accused Israel of mounting a sabotage attack on the site, which makes components for machines used to enrich uranium. Without disclosing details of the assault, Iranian authorities acknowledged the strike had damaged the building.
The attack on Karaj was just the latest in a series of suspected assaults targeting Iran’s nuclear program that have heightened regional hostilities in recent months, as world powers attempt to salvage the now-collapsed nuclear deal. Israel is widely believed to have carried out the sabotage, though it has not claimed responsibility.
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Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only. Tehran is set to renew nuclear talks with world powers this month, after the 2015 accord to curb its nuclear program collapsed following the U.S.’s withdrawal from the agreement in 2018.
Earlier this month, Iran’s atomic agency said that its stockpile of 20-percent enriched uranium had reached over 210 kilograms (463 pounds). Under the historic 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the World Powers, Iran was not meant to enrich uranium above 3.67 percent. Enriched uranium above 90 percent can be used for nuclear weapons.
Also this month, the head of the UN atomic watchdog has compared his agency’s efforts to monitor Iran’s nuclear program to flying through dense clouds, warning that the situation couldn't continue for much longer.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.