Sylvia Westall and Mark Heinrich
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Iran has not expanded the number of centrifuges enriching uranium at its Natanz nuclear site since the end of May after increasing capacity steadily over the previous three years, diplomats said.
The reason for the slowdown was unclear. The International Atomic Energy Agency is due to issue a report later this week that will influence big-power talks due to consider harsher sanctions on Iran over its disputed nuclear campaign.
Since May, Iran has been wracked by unrest over alleged election fraud that has split the conservative political establishment, a relative moderate has become head of its nuclear authority, and Western powers have said they will pursue harsh sanctions against Iran if it does not accept negotiations on its nuclear activity by the end of September.
“There has been no increase in the number of centrifuges enriching uranium since the end of May,” a senior Vienna diplomat familiar with the issue said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of political sensitivities.