May 23, 2007 / 2:17 PM / 12 years ago

Iran expands atomic work, defying U.N.: IAEA report

Iranian technicians lift a barrel of "yellow cake" to feed it into the processing line of Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) in Isfahan, about 261 miles south of Tehran, August 8, 2005. Iran has not only ignored a U.N. Security Council deadline to stop uranium enrichment activity but expanded it, according to a confidential International Atomic Energy Agency report obtained by Reuters on Wednesday. REUTERS/Stringer

VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran has not only ignored a U.N. Security Council deadline to stop uranium enrichment activity but expanded it, according to a confidential International Atomic Energy Agency report obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.

Iran’s defiance of another 60-day deadline set by the Council when it imposed a second set of sanctions on March 24 will expose Tehran to tougher penalties over its nuclear work, which the West fears is a front for assembling atom bombs.

“Iran has not suspended its enrichment-related activities. Iran has continued with the operation of their pilot fuel enrichment plant and with construction of their (planned industrial underground) enrichment plant,” the U.N. nuclear watchdog said in its report.

“It has started feeding cascades with UF6 (uranium gas). Iran has also continued with its heavy water-related projects.”

But it said the amount of uranium gas fed into the cascade was far below the 80-90 percent suitable to detonate an atom bomb.

Concern about Iran’s intentions remain high as it is still evading IAEA investigations into the murky origins and procurement activities of the atomic program and unexplained indications of military involvement, U.N. officials aid.

“Although no commercial amounts of enriched uranium are being produced yet, it is clear their program is advancing,” one official said.

“Unless Iran addresses long-outstanding verification issues, and implements ... required transparency measures, the Agency will not be able to fully reconstruct the history of Iran’s nuclear program and provide assurances about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran or about the exclusively peaceful nature of that program,” the report said.

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