LONDON, Feb 25 (IANS): The UN nuclear watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said Iran must address "serious concerns" about "possible military dimensions" to its nuclear programme after significantly escalating its ability to enrich uranium.
In their latest report, the UN experts disclosed a 42 percent rise in the number of operational centrifuges enriching uranium inside the Natanz facility, located in central Iran, in the last four months, the Daily Telegraph reported Thursday.
Work inside a second, previously secret enrichment plant has also been stepped up, with 698 centrifuges operating inside the Fordow installation near Qom city, 156 km from Tehran, a 69 percent increase on the number recorded during the last inspection in October, the UN watchdog said.
Iran had declined to offer full cooperation to IAEA inspectors during their visit to the country earlier this month.
In particular, the inspectors were prevented from visiting a military location at Parchin, where experiments that would only be relevant to mastering the detonation system of nuclear weapons are understood to have been conducted.
The latest report by the IAEA is likely to deepen Israel's fears about Iran's intentions, particularly the build-up of centrifuges at the Fordow facility, which is dug into a mountainside and could be immune from military attack.
The IAEA reported that 8,808 centrifuges were functioning inside Natanz, compared with 6,208 on its last visit, although the report cautioned that not all of the machines may have been working.