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Report: Iran Tried to Upgrade Nuke Program With Chinese Magnets

Iran had tried to purchase centrifuge parts that would significantly boost its nuclear production capabilities, a report said
By David Lev
First Publish: 2/14/2013, 10:11 AM

Iranian workers standing in front of the Bushehr nuclear power plant,
Iranian workers standing in front of the Bushehr nuclear power plant,
AFP photo

Iran had tried to purchase centrifuge parts that would significantly boost its nuclear production capabilities, a report in the Washington Post said Thursday. The parts were special magnets used for uranium enrichment, and would have given a significant boost to Iran's nuclear program, the report said.

The report was based on research by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS)

The ring-sized magnets are among the items that are banned for shipment to Iran under international sanctions. About a year ago, Iran tried to purchase the rings from China, hoping to circumvent international sanctions, documents showed. The magnets could have been used to outfit 50,000 new centrifuges, which would have increased the number of centrifuges by 500%.

The sale did not go through, apparently, although the report did not say why. However, Iran announced Wednesday that it would install a new generation of centrifuges at its Natanz facility to produce nuclear fuel. The new centrifuges are supposedly faster and can generate significantly more fuel, Iran said. An analyst told the Post that the report on centrifuge acquisitions could be linked to the upgrade announcement.

The report quoted a European diplomat as saying that the Iranians “are positioning themselves to make a lot of nuclear progress quickly. Each step forward makes the situation potentially more dangerous.”