Iran denies building secret uranium enrichment site

Last Updated: Friday, September 10, 2010 - 18:31

Tehran: Iran on Friday denied claims by
opposition groups that it was secretly building a new uranium
enrichment site deep in the mountains northwest of the
capital.

"We have no such installation that enriches uranium and
if they (opposition groups) are aware of such a development,
they should tell us. We will thank them," the country`s atomic
chief Ali Akbar Salehi told the Mehr news agency.

"No such nuclear installation with a specific definition
exists in Iran which has not been declared to the agency," he
said of UN nuclear watchdog the International Atomic Energy
Agency (IAEA).

Iranian opposition group the National Council of
Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said yesterday in Washington that in
2005 Iran began building a new uranium enrichment site in
Abyek, about 120 kilometres northwest of Tehran.

Iran is currently enriching uranium in the central city
of Natanz and is building another such facility at Fordo,
southwest of the capital.

Salehi said that nuclear installations have specific
purposes.

"Facilities which are used for medical and agriculture
purposes are not considered nuclear. There are many such
(non-nuclear) facilities in Iran," he said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced in
November that Iran will build 10 new uranium enrichment sites.
His declaration came after Iran was censured by the IAEA for
building the second enrichment facility at Fordo, southwest of
the capital.

Last month, Salehi said that construction of one of the
10 new nuclear facilities would begin by the end of the
current Iranian year in March 2011, or shortly thereafter.

The United States and other Western powers suspect Iran
is using its uranium enrichment programme to build an atom
bomb. Iran denies the charge, saying its atomic programme is
for peaceful purposes.

The Pentagon and the independent Institute for Science
and International Security (ISIS), meanwhile, expressed
skepticism over the latest opposition claims.

"I don`t know if this site is one that they have
discovered that our intelligence experts have not seen. I find
that hard to believe, but we shall see," Pentagon spokesman
Geoff Morrell said.

David Albright, the founder of ISIS, said "it`s just
another one of their results you can`t verify. It doesn`t hold
up very well in our minds. There`s nothing in the satellite
images that suggest a centrifuge plant."

PTI



First Published: Friday, September 10, 2010 - 18:31

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