Daily Israel Report

Netanyahu: Iran Accelerating Progress toward Nukes

Prime Minister meets US Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), notes inspectors' report cited in New York Times.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 8/24/2012, 3:56 PM

Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahu
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met Friday with US Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI), who is visiting the Middle East and told him, "Just yesterday, we received additional proof of the fact that Iran is continuing to make accelerated progress toward achieving nuclear weapons while totally ignoring international demands."

Netanyahu was referring to a news item in the New York Times that said international nuclear inspectors are about to report that Iran has installed hundreds of new centrifuges in recent months and may also be speeding up production of nuclear fuel.

Citing "diplomats and experts briefed on the findings," the Times said almost all of the new equipment is being installed in a deep underground site on a military base near Qom that is considered virtually invulnerable to military attack. "It would suggest," the paper explained, "that a boast by senior Iranian leaders late last month — that the country had added upward of 1,000 new machines to its installation despite Western sabotage — may be true."

The inspectors' report will also indicate, according to the officials familiar with its contents, that Iran is increasingly focused on enriching uranium to a level of 20 percent — "a purity that it says it needs for a specialty nuclear reactor that it insists is used only for medical purposes, but that outside experts say gets it most of the way to the level needed to produce a workable nuclear bomb."

Meanwhile, negotiations with the United States and its allies on stopping the nuclear weapons program have ground to a near halt