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But he suggested "an altogether different scenario" — a much quicker pace of enrichment to levels easily turned into weapons-capable uranium if Iran starts using newer, more powerful centrifuges at Fordo. That, said the diplomats, is exactly what Iran appears to be on the verge of doing by finishing preparatory work recently for new centrifuge installations.
Fordo, which can house 3,000 centrifuges, was confidentially revealed to the IAEA by Iran in 2009, just days before the U.S. and Britain jointly announced its existence.
Iran announced last year that it would move its 20-percent uranium production to Fordo from Natanz and sharply boost capacity. It started making higher grade material two years ago saying it needed it to fuel a research reactor.
But the U.S. and others question the rationale, pointing out that Iran rejected offers of foreign fuel supplies for that reactor and is making more of the higher-enriched material than that small reactor needs.
George Jahn can be reached at http://twitter.com/georgejahn
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