New evidence that Iran sought to obtain a huge bulk of extremely specialized magnets mounted onto centrifuge apparatuses and an announcement from Tehran that it has started bedding in a modern array of machines for uranium enrichment, has created a new set of concerns for the US, Israel and allies.
These new developments indicate that Tehran is fast expanding its nuclear program, getting on the nerves of Western leaders and setting hurdles in the way to resolve an almost ten-year-old quarrel over its nuclear program.
According to purchase orders received by nuclear researchers, Tehran’s dealers attempted to purchase 100,000 highly specialized magnets from China around a year ago. United Nations resolutions ban export of the ring-shaped magnets to Iran. However, whether Iran succeeded in its attempt is yet to be determined.
The new developments came as the UN nuclear supervisory body kicked off talks in Iran in an attempt to move forward on a long-frozen inquiry into alleged military faucets of Tehran’s nuclear program.
Tehran had already confirmed that it planned to install new IR2-m centrifuges to its major enrichment facility situated near Natanz. Western governments fear that the step could drastically expedite Iran’s buildup of components that could be employed to make a nuclear bomb.
"From last month the installation of the new generation of these machines started," said Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, according to Reuters. "We have produced the machines as planned and we are carrying out the installation gradually ... to complete the tests."
While Iran has often attempted to obtain banned articles from overseas dealers, the case of attempting to buy the highly specialized magnets is being deemed remarkable, given the order’s specifications and size. In theory, the order’s size is sufficient to furnish 50,000 new centrifuges, or almost five times the quantity that Tehran presently controls.
Tehran has been insisting that its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes and that the uranium enrichment attempts are part of its medical research and energy plans.
“They are positioning themselves to make a lot of nuclear progress quickly,” said a European diplomat with access to sensitive intelligence on Iran’s nuclear facilities, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, according to The Washington Post. “Each step forward makes the situation potentially more dangerous.”