US: Iran uranium enrichment full steam ahead

US: Iran uranium enrichment full steam ahead

The United States deplored Iran’s race to enrich uranium and confirmed the presence of a second set of centrifuges in the Islamic republic to do the work, a spokesman said.

International Atomic Energy Agency document from August 31 “mentioned an installation of a second 164-centrifuge cascade was proceeding, and it was unclear at that point whether or not it was up and running,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

“So just based on these public documents, it is clear that Iran is moving forward, full steam ahead with its nuclear program.

“And I think this underscores the importance of the international community acting — acting by way of passing a resolution which imposes sanctions on Iran, in an effort to get the Iranians to change their behavior and to underscore that the international community means business,” McCormack told reporters.

According to a senior State Department official, discussions are going ahead on a UN draft resolution outlining possible sanctions against Iran.

“We are very close on the actual text of the resolution among the P3+1,” the official said on condition of anonymity, using diplomatic shorthand for Britain, France, Germany and the United States.

“We are not quite there yet but yesterday we had a sort of widespread agreement on all the elements of it. Now it is starting to glue together with language so it sort of looks like a resolution,” the official said, adding that the draft may be submitted in the next day or so.

According to diplomatic sources, a stumbling block to drafting the resolution is a civilian nuclear power plant in Bushehr, a billion-dollar project Russia would like to complete and which the United States opposes.

Asked about the matter, the source said the plant is “still in question.”

Russia has supported calls for Iran to suspend nuclear enrichment, but has been reluctant to endorse sanctions and wants to continue work on building a nuclear power station at Bushehr, in southern Iran.

While enriched uranium is used as fuel for nuclear reactors, highly enriched uranium can also be used to make nuclear bombs.

The United States maintains that Iran is seeking to develop atomic weapons, but Iran insists its nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Monday that his country would not retreat even “an inch” from its nuclear ambitions despite the threat of sanctions.

The centrifuges spin gaseous uranium at high speeds to separate heavier isotopes. Cascading refers to the sequential use of the centrifuges, in which each successive centrifuge spins the product of the one before it into ever more concentrated isotopes.

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