Atomic agency claims Iran building underground facility

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Atomic agency claims Iran building underground facility

International body accuses Tehran of constructing a centrifuge assembly plant in Natanz, days before US officials will debate sale of a bunker-busting bomb to Israel

The International Atomic Energy Agency has said that Iran is building a new underground centrifuge assembly plant in Natanz.

Its announcement comes just days before US politicians are due to debate a bill allowing the sale of a new and hugely powerful bunker-busting bomb to Israel.

The Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) is capable of penetrating heavily fortified underground infrastructure, and its sale to Israel will be debated in the US Congress on Friday, ahead of the US presidential election.

An explosion at the Natanz nuclear site in July destroyed much of Iran’s main uranium enrichment facility, which had been above-ground. The Iranians are now rebuilding it – but underground, said Rafael Grossi, director-general of the IAEA.

They “have started, but it’s not completed – it’s a long process,” said Grossi, in an interview with AP. He gave no further details.

Thousands of advanced centrifuges are needed to enrich uranium to the grade needed for a nuclear weapon, which Iran denies is its aim. Sceptics were cheered when analysts said the July explosion had set Tehran’s progress back by at least one year.

Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Iran would “have enough enriched uranium in a few months for two nuclear bombs”, adding that Iran was “working on a new generation of centrifuges called the IR9, which will multiply its enrichment capability fifty-fold”.


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