Iran Accelerating Nuclear Work: Report
Window closing for diplomacy or military intervention, warn analysts
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2012 6:39 AM CDT
Updated Aug 24, 2012 7:26 AM CDT
FILE - A Saturday, Jan. 15, 2011 file photo, shows Iran's heavy water nuclear facilities near the central city of Arak 150 miles southwest of Tehran.   (AP Photo/ISNA,Hamid Foroutan, File)
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(Newser) – Negotiations related to Iran's nuclear program are nearly dead in their tracks; the same can't be said of the country's nuclear progress, according to a soon-to-be-released report by international nuclear inspectors cited by the the New York Times. The report claims that Iran has stepped up its enrichment program, installing hundreds of new centrifuges in its underground Fordow facility; an expert tells the Times Iran could have boosted its number of centrifuges by as much as 20%. While the centrifuges aren't believed to be operating yet, Iran's focus is on enriching uranium to 20% purity, says the report—close to the minimum needed for nuclear weapons.

The report claims that Iran has been successful at increasing its processed uranium—from enough for one bomb when Barack Obama became president to about five today—despite severe sanctions and a series of sophisticated cyberattacks. However, that fuel would need to be further enriched before it could be weaponized; US estimates say that's at least two years off. But with the new centrifuges installed in a location thought to be fairly invulnerable, some fear the window for using diplomacy is closing.