Iran builds a secretive underground nuclear facility as tensions with US grow – PICTURES

Donald Tusk claims Iran nuclear deal is 'good for EU'

And one expert has said the US Government will now be on full alert, fearing the move will exacerbate already heightened tensions with the West, and Washington particular. Satellite pictures obtained from Maxar Technologies by AP show building work underway in the northwest corner of the Fordo nuclear facility, which is located close to the holy Shiite city of Qom, 55 miles southwest of the capital of Tehran.

Any changes at this site will be carefully watched as a sign of where Iran’s nuclear program is headed

Jeffrey Lewis

So far, Iran has not acknowledged any new development at the site, which was only discovered by the West 11 years ago.

The latest news follows confirmation that Iran is undertaking construction work at Natanz nuclear facility after an explosion in summer which officials claimed was a sabotage attack.

Jeffrey Lewis, an expert at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, said: “Any changes at this site will be carefully watched as a sign of where Iran’s nuclear program is headed.

We will use your email address only for sending you newsletters. Please see our Privacy Notice for details of your data protection rights.

“This location was a major sticking point in negotiations leading to the Iran nuclear deal.

“The US insisted Iran close it while Iran’s supreme leader said keeping it was a red line.”

Worldwide regulator the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has not yet confirmed whether Iran informed it of its construction plans for the site.

JUST IN: Scallop wars! French MEP warns of ‘dangerous’ backlash in Channel

The pictures, taken on December 11, reveal what looks to be a foundation for a building with multiple pillars, which can be used to brace buildings in earthquake zones.

The site, which is about the size of a football field – big enough to house 3,000 centrifuges – is surrounded by anti-aircraft guns and other defences.

Other buildings on the site include Iran’s National Vacuum Technology Center, crucial to Iran’s uranium-gas centrifuges, and a key concern for sceptics including Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who accuse the country of trying to develop nuclear weapons.

DON’T MISS
Iran on the brink: Ex-Trump aide exposes US plot [INSIGHT]
World War 3: Missile strike kills eight pro-Iranian militia members [EXPLAINER] 
World War 3 outbreak: BBC expert stuns Newsnight in Iran crash claim [ANALYSIS]

In accordance with the Joint Plan of Comprehensive Action (JPOCA) signed in 2015, Iran agreed to stop enriching uranium.

Instead it pledged to convert the base into “a nuclear, physics and technology center”.

However, US President Donald Trump pulled his country out of the landmark agreement in 2018.

At the time, Mr Trump accused Tehran of repeated violations.

As a result, Iran resumed the process, and now enriches uranium up to 4.5 percent, in excess of the accord’s limit of 3.67 percent.

Earlier this month, in the wake of the assassination of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the Iranian parliament passed a bill which requires Tehran to enrich up to 20 percent.

The legislation paves the way for enrichment levels to be stepped up to 90 percent – which would yield weapons-grade material.

Experts believe Iran – led by President Hassan Rouhani and religious leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei – already has sufficient low-enriched uranium stockpiled to build at least two nuclear weapons, in theory at least.

However, Iran has consistently insisted it has no ambitions to develop nuclear weapons.

Source: Read Full Article