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More alarming news about Iran’s nuclear program

By Missing Peace

Iran nuclear facility

A powerful earthquake has struck the Busher area in Iran. The 6.3 magnitude earthquake destroyed  about 700 homes and killed 37 people as of now.  Iran operates a nuclear plant in Busher that that does not belong to the Convention of Nuclear Safety that was negotiated after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. Iran  claims however, that the Busher facility is undamaged.

This was not the only alarming news about Iran’s nuclear program this week.

After talks between Iran and six world powers in Kazakhstan hit a deadlock at the beginning of April, Iran announced the opening of another new uranium production facility in the city of Ardakan in the center of the country.

According to Iranian state television, the Ardakan facility has an output of an estimated 60 ton of yellowcake which is an impure state of uranium oxide later used in enrichment processes.  The same television report mentioned the opening of two uranium mines in Saghand central Iran.

US Secretary of State John Kerry designated the opening of the new uranium enrichment facility as “provocative”. He compared Iran’s actions to the threats coming out of North Korea currently.

While in Israel earlier this week, Kerry warned Iran that president Obama is serious about preventing Iran from continuing its drive for nuclear weapons. Kerry repeated that “no option is off the table”, a reference to the possibility of using military force in order to stop Iran.

However, spokesmen for the six world powers still believe there are enough grounds to keep talking to Iran about its nuclear program. The foreign policy chief of the EU Catherine Ashton announced she will discuss plans for further engagement with Iran’s chief negotiator Saeed Jalili in the coming days.

Experts on Iran’s nuclear program, such as former IAEA inspector David Albright are increasing critical about the negotiations with Iran.

In an op-ed published by the Wall Street Journal Albright and two other prominent American experts said curtailing of 20% enriched uranium and exporting some of Iran’s uranium stockpile is not sufficient anymore.  They wrote that the US and its allies should “immediately impose maximum pressure on Iran, including by intensifying economic sanctions and cracking down on Tehran’s illicit imports of centrifuge equipment and materials. In addition to curtailing Iran’s production and stockpile of 20%-enriched uranium, any interim deal must verifiably prohibit Iran from upgrading the type and increasing the number of its operational centrifuges. More frequent IAEA inspections at key Iranian sites are also essential”.

Albright furthermore warned: “If Iran achieves breakout capacity, the United States, by President Obama’s admission, would not have sufficient insight into Iran’s progress to intervene “in time” to prevent it from completing the process of obtaining nuclear weapons.                                                                                                                   Washington and its allies must insist now that Iran verifiably stops increasing the number and quality of its centrifuges. Anything short of that will leave Iran far too close to an undetectable breakout capacity”, Albright wrote.

Prime minister Netanyahu of Israel told Kerry during his  visit to Israel that “Iran cannot allowed to continue its nuclear program and that everybody understands that Iran has running out the clock and has been using talks with the world powers to advance its nuclear program”.

Israel believes that Iran is only a few months away from the threshold of having enough fissile material to build an atomic bomb