|Iran has installed advanced centrifuges at one of nuclear facilities: report||
TEHRAN – Two officials familiar with Iran’s nuclear activities told the Associated Press on Friday that Iranian technical experts told counterparts from the six powers last week that some of the cutting-edge centrifuge machines had been installed at a research tract of one of Iran’s enrichment sites. They gave no numbers.
They said Tehran had done so by interpreting a provision of the interim Geneva nuclear deal in a way rejected by some of the six powers that sealed the Geneva deal with Iran.
Iran argued that it had a right to do so under the research and development provisions of the November 24 Geneva accord, said the officials, who represent countries that are members of the Vienna-based UN nuclear agency monitoring Tehran’s nuclear activities.
Iran’s nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, also said on Thursday that his country was building a new generation of centrifuges for uranium enrichment but they need further tests before they can be mass-produced.
Iran’s approach is being disputed by the United States and other representatives of the six powers — the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany — said the officials. They said they have argued that installing any centrifuge that increases overall numbers, particularly a new model, violates Tehran’s commitment to freeze the amount and type of enriching machines at November 24 levels.
In commitments under the Geneva accord, Iran agreed to freeze the number of centrifuges enriching uranium for six months and only to produce models now installed or in operation, so it can exchange them piece by piece for any damaged ones. At the same time, the interim deal allows Iran to continue centrifuge research and development.
The disagreement contributed to the decision to adjourn the technical talks in Geneva last Sunday, the officials said.
Two technical meetings about Iran’s nuclear program since the November agreement have dragged on for several days, but a session planned in Geneva on Monday is scheduled to last only a day. That suggests that both sides are anticipating the need to return to their capitals for more consultations on the issue.
The development regarding uranium enrichment reflects the difficulties expected in implementing the November 24 deal as the two sides argue over interpretations of the document.
Asked for comment on the centrifuge issue, U.S. State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf told the AP that the Geneva plan “makes very clear what Iran is and isn’t allowed to do,” adding Washington is ready to “vigilantly ensure” that the agreement is being implemented.
Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Iran’s Supreme Leader, also commented on Friday on the process of talks between Tehran and world powers over the country’s nuclear program, saying Tehran would benefit by talking separately with the United States and the other five powers because each nation has separate interests “over various international issues.”
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