VIENNA — Adding weight to its announcement of a nuclear upgrade, Tehran has shown high-level UN officials high-tech equipment positioned at its main uranium enrichment site meant to vastly accelerate output of material that can be used for both reactor fuel and atomic arms, a senior diplomat said Thursday.
The diplomat spoke to reporters shortly after the UN officials returned from Tehran, acknowledging that their latest in a series of trips to the Iranian capital that began over a year ago again failed to reach a deal to restart an investigation into suspicions that Iran is pursuing nuclear arms.
Herman Naeckerts, who headed the International Atomic Energy Agency team that visited Iran, said remaining differences scuttled attempts to finalize an agreement on how such an investigation should be conducted. He declined to say whether there was progress.
The agency wants the probe to be open-ended, something opposed by Tehran, which denies it wants nuclear weapons and says it is interested in the atom only as an energy source and for research.
With expectations for success low even before the start of the latest visit, interest focused on Iran’s move to install a new generation of centrifuges at Natanz, its main uranium enriching site.
Iran announced the start of installations during the inspectors’ one-day visit Wednesday at about the same time that the diplomat said the group was shown a small number of the machines at the site. The diplomat said those centrifuges were ready to be installed. The diplomat, who closely follows Iran’s nuclear program, demanded anonymity because his information was confidential.