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Iran expands enrichment facility: Diplomats

Last Updated: Saturday, May 15, 2010 - 00:24

Vienna: Iran has set up new equipment that
could let it produce more enriched uranium from a smaller
amount of raw material, diplomats said on Friday.

The step could one day make it easier to produce a
nuclear bomb and is likely to give the US more leverage with
Russia and China in its push for new UN sanctions on Iran.

Moscow, which has softened its traditional opposition to
sanctions in recent weeks, warned Iran that time was running
out to avoid such punishment, urging it to show compromise on
its nuclear activities during a visit by Brazil`s president,
Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said after meeting
Silva in Moscow that "maybe it is the last chance before the
adopting of known decisions in the Security Council."

The international showdown is focused at a nuclear
facility in the desert outside the central city of Natanz.

Almost all of the thousands of centrifuges set up there
produce uranium that is made up of 3.5 per cent uranium-235,
the isotope needed to produce a nuclear explosion.

Uranium enriched to 3.5 percent can be used to fuel
civilian reactors that produce electricity, Iran`s declared
purpose for enrichment.

One set of 164 centrifuges has been linked in a cascade,
or string of machines, that has been producing uranium
enriched to near 20 percent since February.


First Published: Saturday, May 15, 2010 - 00:24

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