posted on Mar, 9 2003 @ 04:57 AM
In another worrying development for the Bush administration, Iran moves closer to operation of a facility to enrich uranium
With war in Iraq looming and North Korea defiantly pursuing its own nuclear program, the last thing President Bush needs is another nuclear crisis.
But that is what he may soon face in Iran. On a visit last month to Tehran, International Atomic Energy Agency director Mohamed ElBaradei announced he
had discovered that Iran was constructing a facility to enrich uranium ó a key component of advanced nuclear weapons ó near Natanz. But diplomatic
sources tell TIME the plant is much further along than previously revealed. The sources say work on the plant is "extremely advanced" and involves
"hundreds" of gas centrifuges ready to produce enriched uranium and "the parts for a thousand others ready to be assembled."
Iran announced last week that it intends to activate a uranium conversion facility near Isfahan (under IAEA safeguards), a step that produces the
uranium hexafluoride gas used in the enrichment process. Sources tell Time the IAEA has concluded that Iran actually introduced uranium hexafluoride
gas into some centrifuges at an undisclosed location to test their ability to work. That would be a blatant violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty, to which Iran is a signatory.