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UN atomic agency official tours Iran nuclear sites: report
by Staff Writers
Tehran (AFP) Aug 23, 2011

US terms 'troubling' Iran transfer of centrifuges
Washington (AFP) Aug 22, 2011 - The United States expressed concern Monday that Iran has reportedly begun transferring centrifuges that enrich uranium to the secretive Fordo plant.

"These reports are troubling," State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters.

She recalled that UN Security Council resolutions require Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, while the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency demands Iran show transparency and cooperate with the probe into its nuclear program.

"The Iranian nuclear program offers no plausible reason for its existing enrichment of uranium up to nearly 20 percent, nor ramping up this production, nor moving centrifuges underground," Nuland told reporters.

"And its failure to comply with its obligations to suspend its enrichment activities up to 3.5 percent and nearly 20 percent have given all of us in the international community reason to doubt its intentions," she said.

Tehran's nuclear chief Fereydoun Abbasi Davani was quoted by the Iranian state television website as saying that a batch of centrifuge machines have been transferred to the Fordo facility.

The Fordo plant was built secretly deep inside a mountain near the Shiite shrine city of Qom, some 150 kilometers (90 miles) south of Tehran.

A top UN atomic watchdog official last week toured Iranian nuclear sites, including ones where uranium is being enriched, a senior Iranian official was quoted as saying Tuesday by Fars news agency.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, told Fars that the head of the IAEA's nuclear safeguards division Herman Nackaerts visited the sites "last week for five days."

Nackaerts, was accompanied by his deputies, he said.

"They were taken to the Bushehr nuclear power plant, Fordo and Natanz enrichment facilities, to Isfahan nuclear installations, including the nuclear fuel rod-making plant, and to the Arak heavy water research facility and heavy water production plant," Soltanieh was quoted as saying.

The Islamic republic has been building the Arak 40-megawatt heavy water research reactor on the outskirts of the village of Khondab. Heavy water reactors do not need enriched uranium fuel in order to function.

The plant aims at supplying heavy water to be used as coolant and moderator for the research reactor, whose official function is to produce plutonium for medical research and agricultural aims.

Iran allowed UN inspectors to visit the Arak facility in August, 2009.

With the opening of the fuel plant in the central city of Isfahan Iran has mastered the complete nuclear fuel cycle from uranium mining to enrichment.

Tehran, which has been slapped with UN sanctions over its refusal to suspend nuclear enrichment, allowed the visit "to show the Islamic republic's goodwill," he added.

The team was also taken to see advanced centrifuges, Soltanieh said, adding that at the end of the tour the delegation had talks with Iran's atomic organisation chief Fereydoun Abbasi Davani.

Soltanieh said the visit was the result of meetings Abbasi Davani and Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi had with IAEA chief Yukiya Amano in late June and mid-July in Vienna respectively.

"This once again shows our nation's transparent cooperation with the IAEA and the international community," Soltanieh said.

In February, Iran informed the IAEA that the Fordo plant was prepared to host centrifuges, and that it would become operational in the summer.

IAEA inspectors first visited the plant on October 25, 2009, after its disclosure by Iran to the agency triggered intense outrage in the West.

Iran's uranium enrichment work, the most sensitive part of its controversial nuclear programme, is undertaken at the Natanz facility in central Iran which is visited regularly by UN nuclear inspectors.

Enriched uranium can be used to produce both the fuel for a nuclear reactor and the fissile material for an atomic warhead.

On June 8, Abbasi Davani had announced that Iran would expand its production of 20 percent enriched uranium and eventually move the process from Natanz to Fordo.

In July, Iran said it was installing more efficient centrifuges, capable of enriching uranium at 5-6 times faster than the older machines.

Tehran says it uses the process to amass fuel material for future nuclear power plants and atomic research reactors it plans to build, dismissing fears in the West that Iran seeks to acquire a weapons capability.

The Islamic republic has over 8,000 centrifuges of the first generation IR-1, with nearly 6,000 actively purifying uranium to the 3.5 percent level, according to the latest report by the UN nuclear watchdog in May.

Iran is under four sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to suspend the uranium enrichment work, and officials in Tehran say they remain adamant to push ahead with the programme.

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Iran tries 'Israel spy' accused of killing nuclear scientist
Tehran (AFP) Aug 23, 2011 - Iran on Tuesday opened the trial of a man accused of playing a crucial role in the 2010 killing of one of its top nuclear scientists and of spying for arch-foe Israel, local media reported.

Majid Jamali Fashi is the main suspect in the assassination of Masoud Ali Mohammadi, a particle physics professor at Tehran University who was killed in a bomb attack outside his home in January 2010.

His trial began Tuesday morning in the Revolutionary Court, ISNA news agency reported.

Jamali Fashi is "accused of Moharebe (waging war against God) using assassination as the means... by placing a bomb-laden bike in front of Ali Mohammadi's house," the state television website quoted the prosecutor as saying.

If proven guilty, he faces the death sentence.

Iran has blamed the killing on "mercenaries" in the pay of Israel and the United States.

Jamali Fashi also faces charges of cooperating with Israel and its spy agency as well as receiving 120,000 US dollars in return for collecting intelligence and passing them to Mossad, the report added.

The prosecutor said Jamali Fashi has "confessed" to the charges of collaboration with Israel and its intelligence agency against Iran.

Earlier this year, Iran said it arrested the man responsible for the bombing when it busted a network working for the Israeli spy agency Mossad.

In a recent televised "confession," a transcript of which was posted on the state television website on Monday, Jamali Fashi said he received "training" from Mossad agents.

Israel has long regarded the Islamic republic's controversial nuclear programme as an existential threat.

Another Iranian nuclear scientist, Majid Shahriari, was killed in the capital on November 29, while the current nuclear chief Fereydoon Abbasi Davani survived a similar assassination attempt on the same day.

Iranian officials immediately accused the United States and Israel of being behind the attempts.

Tehran has also blamed Tel Aviv and Washington for the unexplained disappearances of several of its military officials and nuclear scientists in recent years, and for a computer attack by the Stuxnet malware in the summer of 2010 against its centrifuges, the uranium enriching device.

Western powers, along with Israel, suspect Iran is seeking an atomic weapons capability under the guise of its civilian nuclear and space programmes, a charge Tehran vehemently denies.

The Islamic republic is currently under four sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, the most controversial part of its nuclear programme.

Several countries, including the United States, and the European Union have also imposed other unilateral punitive measures against Tehran.

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Russia in talks to build more nuclear plants in Iran: report
Tehran (AFP) Aug 21, 2011
Russia has put forward "proposals" to build new nuclear power plants in Iran after the completion of the Bushehr project, local media reported Sunday quoting the Islamic republic's atomic chief. "We have held negotiations with the Russians regarding the construction of new nuclear power plants. They have put forward some proposals," Fereydoon Abbasi Davani was quoted as saying by Resalat new ... read more

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