(NEW YORK TIMES) WASHINGTON — International nuclear inspectors will soon report that Iran has installed hundreds of new centrifuges in recent months and may also be speeding up production of nuclear fuel while negotiations with the United States and its allies have ground to a near halt, according to diplomats and experts briefed on the findings.
Almost all of the new equipment is being installed in a deep underground site on a military base near Qum that is considered virtually invulnerable to military attack. It would suggest that a boast by senior Iranian leaders late last month — that the country had added upward of 1,000 new machines to its installation despite Western sabotage — may be true.
The report will also indicate, according to the officials familiar with its contents, that Iran is increasingly focused on enriching uranium to a level of 20 percent — a purity that it says it needs for a specialty nuclear reactor that it insists is used only for medical purposes, but that outside experts say gets it most of the way to the level needed to produce a workable nuclear bomb. The report does not attempt to address the question of whether Iran has made a decision to build a nuclear weapon; American intelligence officials believe it has not, and Iran insists it wants to use nuclear power for peaceful ends.