Sharp rise in Iran's uranium enrichment - report

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Sharp rise in Iran's uranium enrichment - report

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United Nations nuclear inspectors have expressed serious concerns about possible military dimensions of Iran’s atomic programme, saying the country has stepped up uranium enrichment considerably.

The International Atomic Energy Agency team returned from a failed mission to Tehran, during which they said Iran refused to respond to allegations of developing nuclear weapons.

The IAEA has just published its quarterly report saying Iran has increased its number of uranium enrichment machines by about a third since late last year. If refined enough, the material can be used to produce nuclear weapons.

Suspicions in the west that Iran is planning to build an atomic bomb have led to increasingly strict international economic sanctions, and fears of a new middle-east war. Israel has threatened pre-emptive strikes on Iran’s nuclear sites.

Tehran has always maintained that its nuclear programme is purely for peaceful ends, and has insisted it has no intention of giving it up.