Iran yesterday announced plans to expand its nuclear production of high-grade uranium by tripling its production capacity. Tehran also announced plans to shift its production to an underground bunker. “This year, under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), we will transfer 20 percent enrichment from the Natanz site to the Fordow site and we will increase the production capacity by three times,” the Head of Iran’s atomic energy agency, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, said. This came after the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, confirmed on Monday that the IAEA had received “further information … that seems to point to the existence of possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme.”
The Fordow site is located in a mountain bunker, which Iran only disclosed in September 2009 after Western intelligence discovered the site. The international community immediately condemned Iran’s latest plans. A French Foreign Ministry statement said that the announcement is a “provocation” and “reinforces the international community’s existing concerns over the intransigence of the Iranian authorities and their persistent violation of international law.” A European Union statement said that it noted with “grave concern” Iran’s lack of cooperation with the IAEA. Meanwhile, the IAEA said that it was waiting for a confirmed report from Iran before it commented on the situation.
On 24 May the IAEA issued a report on the Iranian nuclear programme that stated the organisation had received new information indicating continuing Iranian efforts to develop the technology for a nuclear weapon. It stressed that Iran had failed to explain these allegations or meet its international obligations on non-proliferation.