Iran is expanding the capacity of its controversial underground nuclear facility, a U.N. report said Friday, as its leaders move to increase production of a more purified form of enriched uranium in defiance of Western demands for a freeze.
U.N. inspectors who visited the plant near the city of Qom earlier this month saw hundreds of newly installed centrifuges amid steady progress in boosting the capability of the facility, which has come to symbolize international concerns about Iran’s possible pursuit of nuclear weapons.
They also discovered traces of a form of uranium that is closer to the kind needed to make weapons-grade fuel than the Iranians have previously acknowledged making. The particles were believed to have resulted from a technical glitch, but officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency were continuing to investigate the matter.
Evidence of the plant’s expansion is likely to add to worries about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, while enhancing the country’s bargaining position going into a new round of nuclear talks scheduled for June, weapons experts said.