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Terrorism & Security

Iran's second uranium enrichment facility 'changes every equation'

President Obama will demand at the G-20 summit today that Iran open the nuclear fuel plant to inspectors immediately. If Tehran refuses, it could bolster the case for sanctions.

By / September 25, 2009

Iran has announced the existence of a second, previously unknown uranium-enrichment facility, prompting new fears about Iran's nuclear-weapon capabilities, according to new reports.

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The New York Times suggests that Iran may have decided to reveal the second facility – a "pilot" enrichment plan – upon discovering in recent weeks that the US and its allies were aware of its existence. US officials had been monitoring the facility, located in a mountain near the Shiite holy city of Qom, for years, the Times writes. But now that Iran has publicly acknowledged the facility's existence, President Barack Obama, along with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, are set to demand Friday at the G-20 summit in Pittsburgh that Iran open it to IAEA inspections immediately.

Reuters reports that International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Friday that Iran revealed the existence of the plant to the agency in a letter on Monday.

The IAEA said Iran had told [IAEA Director-General Mohamed] ElBaradei in a letter that the plant would enrich uranium only to a level needed to generate electricity.
"The agency also understands from Iran that no nuclear material has been introduced into the facility," International Atomic Energy Agency spokesman Marc Vidricaire said.

, The IAEA has been conducting daily monitoring of Iran's primary enrichment facility at Natanz, the existence of which was revealed by an Iranian exile group in 2002, according to the Associated Press

Reuters reports that it is unknown whether the facility contains the more advanced centrifuges that Iran has been experimenting with over the last two years. Iran's facility at Natanz uses 1970s-era centrifuges, but new centrifuges could process uranium two to three times faster.


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