US can't confirm Iran's help to Syrian nuclear bomb

Baku, Azerbaijan, Jan.14

By Dalga Khatinoglu - Trend:

On the eve of bilateral meeting between Iran and the United States' top diplomats, a German weekly news magazine Spiegel reported citing "secret documents" that Iran is helping Syria to build an uranium enrichment plant to make a nuclear bomb.

Spiegel reported Jan. 9 that Syria is building a nuclear facility deep underground, with help from Iran and North Korea.

It was thought that Israel had destroyed Syria's nuclear weapons capability with its 2007 raid on the Kibar complex, but the report claims evidence of a new facility close to Lebanon's border.

Iran and Syria have denied Spiegel's report, and the IAEA and western countries have been silent so far.

"We saw the report and we will study it. But currently we cannot confirm it," the U.S. State Department's Persian Language Spokesperson Alan Eyre told Trend Jan.13.

Iran and P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council comprising of China, France, Russia, Britain, the US Plus Germany) sealed an interim deal in Geneva on November 24, 2013 to pave the way for the full resolution of the West's decade-old dispute with Iran over the country's nuclear energy program.

The Geneva deal took effect on January 20 and expired on July 20. However the two sides agreed to extend their talks for four months until Nov. 24 to reach a permanent deal on Iran's disputed nuclear program. At a meeting held on November 24, 2014, the sides agreed to extend the talks for further seven months.

About the current atmosphere of nuclear negotiations, Eyre said that "as always the talks are underway in an atmosphere of seriousness, good will, and mutual respect".

"As Secretary of State John Kerry said recently, his meeting with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif in Geneva (on Jan.14) aims at facilitating the process of nuclear negotiations and creating progress in the talks," he added.

Eyre who has been a member of the US nuclear talks delegation since 2009 said that "the two officials will discuss all the planned issues and determine the path of the two countries' negotiating teams", expressing hope that more progress will be achieved in the talks.

One of the major disputations between Iran and P5+1 is the country's uranium enrichment capacity.

The head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Ali Akbar Salehi said on Jan.12 that Iran needs 30 tons of 3.5%-enriched nuclear fuel annually, while the current production level is 2.5 tons. "But, the western countries' demand is limiting this level more and more, as well as converting the current stockpile of 3.5 percent-enriched uranium to fuel".

Currently, Iran possesses 19,000 IR1 and 1,000 IR2 centrifuges and about half of them are active. Uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas has been pumped into these centrifuges for enrichment.

IR1 centrifuge capacity for uranium enrichment is 0.8-1.2 SWU, IR2 - 4-5 SWU. There are also more powerful centrifuges, for example, IR8 with the capacity of 24 SWU, but Iran hasn't activated the powerful centrifuges yet.

Edited by CN

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