Iranian technicians have moved highly sophisticated technical equipment into the uranium enrichment site in preparation for starting it up, the nuclear watchdog reported Monday.
The IAEA report offered no estimate of the new plant's capabilities but a senior international official familiar with the agency's work in Iran said that it appeared designed to produce about a ton of enriched uranium a year. That would be enough for a nuclear warhead but too little to fuel the nearly finished plant at the southern port of Bushehr and other civilian reactors Iran is planning to bring on line in the coming years.
The IAEA also noted that Iran's enrichment at the Natanz site — revealed by dissidents in 2002 and under agency monitoring — was stagnating, with output remaining at mid-2009 levels.
The report did not offer a reason. But the official suggested that nuclear experts previously working at Natanz could now be preoccupied with putting the finishing touches on the newly discovered site, called Fordo.
As early as three years ago, Iranian officials had announced that immediate plans for the Natanz site were to install about 8,000 enriching centrifuges, and Monday's report suggested that Tehran had reached that goal