Just days before Iran enters its first nuclear talks with the West since the summer, international nuclear inspectors said that the country has begun installing a new generation of equipment that should give it the ability to produce nuclear fuel much faster.
The installation – at Iran’s main plant for uranium enrichment, located in the desert at Natanz – came after a half-decade of delays exacerbated by Western sanctions and sabotage. The new centrifuges are four to five times more powerful than an aging model that Iran has used for years. The advance has worried American, European and Israeli officials because it would make it easier for Iran to race toward making fuel for nuclear weapons, if it decided to do so.
Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokeswoman, called the installation of the advanced machines “yet another provocative step” and “a further escalation” in Iran’s continuing violation of the United Nations demand that Tehran suspend its program of uranium enrichment.
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