Iran is escalating its uranium enrichment program and is preparing to activate advanced IR-6 type centrifuges at an underground enrichment site at Fordow, Reuters said in a report on Monday.

The IR-6 centrifuges can enrich uranium significantly faster than first-generation centrifuge machines.

The report, citing “confidential” information from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), said the move is one of several steps Iran had threatened but “held off carrying out until 30 of the 35 countries on the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Board of Governors backed a resolution this month criticizing it for failing to explain uranium traces found at undeclared sites.”

The development comes as mediated talks between world powers, the United States and Iran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal remain stalled.

“IAEA inspectors verified on [June 18] that Iran was ready to feed uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas, the material centrifuges enrich, into the second of two cascades, or clusters, of IR-6 centrifuges installed at Fordow, a site dug into a mountain,” said the report.

In January, a report by the Institute for Science and International Security noted that a new underground complex at the Natanz nuclear facility in Iran, which is designed to serve as a new advanced centrifuge assembly center site, will feature halls “more deeply buried than the Fordow uranium enrichment site, itself deeply buried.”

Both the new halls and the Fordow site “are significantly deeper underground than the buried centrifuge halls at the main Natanz site, each only eight meters below ground,” according to the report.


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