Iran expands enrichment facility: Diplomats
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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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