Bloomberg reports: Iran has started to enrich uranium at its Fordo production facility, the official Kayhan newspaper reported without saying where it got the information.
Iran will soon have a ceremony to open the site officially, the newspaper reported, citing the head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, Fereydoun Abbasi. The Iranian nuclear chief was cited yesterday by Mehr News as saying that the underground facility “will start operating in the near future.”
The existence of the Fordo plant, built into the side of a mountain near the Muslim holy city of Qom, south of Tehran, was disclosed in September 2009, heightening concern among the U.S. and its allies who say Iran’s activities may be a cover for the development of atomic weapons. The Persian Gulf country has rejected the allegation, saying it needs nuclear technology to secure energy for its growing population.
The Associated Press reports: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says Iran is laying the groundwork for making nuclear weapons someday, but is not yet building a bomb and called for continued diplomatic and economic pressure to persuade Tehran not to take that step.
As he has previously, Panetta cautioned against a unilateral strike by Israel against Iran’s nuclear facilities, saying the action could trigger Iranian retaliation against U.S. forces in the region.
“We have common cause here” with Israel, he said. “And the better approach is for us to work together.”
Panetta’s remarks on CBS’ Face the Nation, which were taped Friday and aired Sunday, reflect the long-held view of the Obama administration that Iran is not yet committed to building a nuclear arsenal, only to creating the industrial and scientific capacity to allow one if its leaders to decide to take that final step.