17 August 2010
Iran has announced that it will start building the first of ten new uranium enrichment plants at a secret location “inside the mountains” in the spring of 2011. Iranian Vice-President Ali Akbar Salehi, who also heads the country’s Atomic Energy Organization, announced that the search for sites for the facilities had ended. "The construction of one of these sites will start by the end of this [Iranian] year [March 2011] or the beginning of the next year.”
Iran is already enriching uranium at its main plant at Natanz and last year was forced to admit it was building a second enrichment facility run by the Revolutionary Guard inside a mountain near the city of Qom. The regime in Tehran insists its nuclear activities are peaceful and argues that as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) it has the right to peaceful nuclear technology. But the United Nations last month imposed a fourth round of sanctions because of fears Iran may be secretly developing nuclear weapons.
Tehran also announced that it will start operating the Bushehr nuclear reactor in the coming weeks. Russian experts are to load it with nuclear fuel from next week. On Tuesday, Iranian news agency reported that an F-4 fighter jet of Iran’s Air Force had crashed four miles near the Bushehr plant.
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