Daily Israel Report

Iran to Expand Uranium Enrichment at Underground Plant

Ahmadinejad's surprise? Iran is expected to announce the expansion of its uranium enrichment at the underground Fordo plant.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 2/15/2012, 2:15 AM

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
Flash 90

Iran is expected to announce the expansion of its uranium enrichment at the Fordo plant, the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on Tuesday.

The facility near Qom is underground, heavily fortified and protected by the armed forces, making it a very difficult target for air strikes.

The existence of the facility near Qom only came to light after it was identified by Western intelligence agencies in September 2009. The UN’s nuclear watchdog recently confirmed that Iran had begun enriching uranium at the plant.

According to Tuesday’s report, Tehran hopes that transferring all of its uranium enrichment, a key process in producing a nuclear weapon, from the overt facility near Natanz to the Fordo facility, will greatly complicate a possible aerial attack on its nuclear facilities.

On Saturday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Tehran will soon unveil “big new” nuclear achievements.

In a speech he made at a rally in Tehran marking the 33rd anniversary of the Islamic Revolution that toppled the pro-Western monarchy and brought Islamic clerics to power, Ahmadinejad did not elaborate on the upcoming announcement but insisted Iran would never give up its uranium enrichment.

“Within the next few days the world will witness the inauguration of several big new achievements in the nuclear field,” Ahmadinejad told the crowd in Tehran’s famous Azadi, or Freedom, square.

Last month, the United States condemned Iran’s uranium enrichment and said the work at the Fordo site is “a further escalation of their ongoing violations with regard to their nuclear obligations.”

Iran later rejected the reactions of Western countries to the underground uranium enrichment plant, saying they are “politically motivated.”

Iran’s envoy to the International Atomic Energy (IAEA), Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said that the Fordo nuclear site is operating under full supervision of the Vienna-based nuclear watchdog group.