Sat, Feb 21, 2009 - Page 6 News List

Iran slows uranium plant growth, but fuel stockpile rises


Iran has slowed the expansion of its uranium enrichment plant but has built up a stockpile of nuclear fuel, an International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report said on Thursday.

The UN watchdog said Iran had increased the number of centrifuges refining uranium, a process that can produce fuel for civilian energy or atom bombs, by only 136 from 3,800 in November.

“We see the pace of installing and bringing centrifuges into operation has slowed quite considerably since August,” a senior UN official said.

But Iran’s reported stockpile of low-enriched uranium had risen to 1,010kg from 630kg in November and 480kg in August. The heightened output rate suggested existing centrifuges were operating at higher capacity and more efficiently than before.

But the country has yet to convince the international community that it has no intention to build nuclear weapons, the US said on Thursday after the report was released.

The US urged Iran to give up its enrichment activities and said Tehran’s refusal to respond constructively to IAEA requests over its program was “deeply troubling.”

“We view this report as another opportunity lost to resolve international concerns,” US State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid said in a statement.

“Absent Iranian compliance with its international nuclear obligations and transparency with the IAEA, the international community cannot have confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program,” he said.

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