Can Iran’s March to Nuclear Statehood Be Halted?

As the Islamic republic enriches uranium to higher levels than ever, western diplomats try to reignite talks

When two UN atomic watchdog inspectors set off for Iran’s Fordow nuclear plant in January, they gave their Iranian counterparts virtually no notice of the impending visit.

It was what the International Atomic Energy Agency terms a routine unscheduled inspection, designed to give staff at one of the Islamic republic’s most secretive facilities as little time as possible to make any alterations to equipment.

On this occasion, they would make an alarming discovery. After the inspectors donned laboratory coats and descended into Fordow, built deep beneath a mountain to protect against US or Israeli bombs, they were immediately given cause for concern.

Two “cascades” of advanced centrifuges enriching uranium were configured in a way that “substantially” differed from what Iran’s nuclear authorities had declared to the IAEA, the agency reported.

The discovery prompted a brief back and forth between the inspectors and the Iranian scientists, who insisted nothing had changed. The IAEA experts returned the next day, put on gloves, grabbed swabs and plastic bags, and took samples of dust from the area, which were flown back to the watchdog’s Vienna headquarters.

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Source: Financial Times