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Iran Confirms Centrifuge Facility Relocated To Underground Site Over Security Concerns

By RFE/RL April 17, 2022

Iran has confirmed it relocated a centrifuge facility to its underground Natanz nuclear site, days after the UN atomic watchdog said it had installed surveillance cameras to monitor the new workshop at Tehran's request, Iranian media reported.

The machines, which were moved from Iran's now-closed Karaj nuclear site, will be used to make centrifuge rotor tubes and bellows, crucial parts for the devices that spin at very high speeds to enrich uranium gas. It raises questions about Iran's plans for the manufacturing of advanced centrifuges.

Iranian state media quoted the spokesman for the country's atomic energy organization, Behrouz Kamalvandi, as saying authorities had moved the operation to a safer place over security concerns.

Iran's centrifuge facility in Karaj was targeted in what Iran described as a sabotage attack in June. Natanz itself has twice been targeted in sabotage attacks that Iran has blamed on Israel.

Tehran has since been seeking to ensure greater security for such sites.

The sprawling Natanz site includes a commercial-scale enrichment plant that is underground, which could offer some protection from any potential air strikes.

"Unfortunately, because of a terrorist operation that took place against Karaj, we were obliged to intensify security measures under which we moved an important part of the machines and transferred the rest to Natanz and Isfahan," said Kamalvandi.

Isfahan is the location of another Iranian nuclear facility.

Last week, the International Atomic Energy Agency said it had installed cameras and removed seals from machines at the new workshop in Natanz at the request of Iranian authorities.

There is concern that Iran could be closer to being able to construct an atomic weapon if it chose to pursue one.

Iran is now enriching with hundreds of advanced centrifuges, some of them enriching to a purity of up to 60 percent, close to the 90 percent that is weapons-grade. That is far above the 3.67 percent cap imposed by the 2015 deal between Iran and major powers, and the 20 percent it had achieved before the deal.

Iran insists it has no plans to make nuclear weapons.

Talks between Iran and world powers in Vienna to revive the deal have stalled. The deal collapsed four years ago when former U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew the United States and imposed crushing sanctions on Iran. In the meantime, Iran has vastly expanded its nuclear work.

With reporting by AP and Reuters

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/iran-natanz-centrifuge- facility-relocated/31807066.html

Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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