Report: Iran expands nuclear capacity underground

( Iran has installed many more uranium enrichment machines in an underground bunker, potentially paving the way for a significant expansion of work the West fears is ultimately aimed at making nuclear bombs, Israel Hayom reported Thursday, citing diplomatic sources.

The Islamic Republic denies allegations it is seeking a nuclear weapons capability. But its refusal to curb its nuclear enrichment program has prompted tough Western sanctions and has heightened speculation that Israel may attack its atomic sites.

In a possible sign of further Iranian defiance in the face of such pressure, several sources said Iran had put in place additional enrichment centrifuges—two interlocked networks of 174 centrifuges each—in its Fordo facility, buried deep inside a mountain to protect it against enemy strikes. One source suggested hundreds of machines had been installed.

Western diplomats have said they believe Iran is cleansing the Parchin nuclear site to remove any evidence of illicit nuclear activity at a place where the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) suspects it has conducted tests that had a military dimension. One Western envoy said that the suspected clean-up at Parchin was “intensifying” and that this made it doubtful that inspectors from the IAEA would uncover any hard evidence there, even if they were allowed to go.

Posted on August 24, 2012 .