Iran accused of rapid rise in uranium production

IRAN has rapidly increased production of higher-grade enriched uranium over the past four months, the United Nations nuclear watchdog has said.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also said Tehran had failed to provide a convincing explanation for a quantity of missing uranium. Diplomats said the amount involved was large enough to be used in experiments for arming a nuclear missile.

Tehran insists it is not interested in developing nuclear weapons and said its activities were meant to generate energy, or were research related. But the IAEA report contained little assurance that Iran’s nuclear programme is purely peaceful.

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Instead, it confirmed that two visits by its inspectors to Tehran within a month had failed to dent suspicions that Iran was secretly working on a nuclear weapons programme.

The confidential report adds that the agency has “serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme”.

The report was issued to the IAEA’s 35-nation board and the UN Security Council as the latest update on what the agency knows and what it suspects about Iran’s nuclear activities.

It comes amid heightened tensions caused by Iran’s refusal to rein in nuclear activities that much of the world fears could be redirected toward a weapons programme. A series of sanctions imposed on Tehran have increased tensions without any sign that Iran is ready to compromise.

Instead, it has retaliated by imposing oil embargoes on Britain and France and threatening other European nations that act against it with similar economic sanctions.