UPDATE: A spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Iran has “started the production of uranium enriched up to 20% in U-235 using IR-1 centrifuges in the Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant. All nuclear material in the facility remains under the Agency’s containment and surveillance.”
(TEHRAN, Iran) — Iran claims to have gone ahead with a plan to enrich uranium inside a mountain location — a key step to developing a nuclear arsenal.
The strategy announced Sunday by Iran’s state news service would provide greater defense from attacks by its enemies.
If it’s true Iran moved its refinement work from the enrichment plant at Natanz to a mountain in Fordow, it would further heighten tensions between Tehran and the West, which disputes the contention that Iran’s nuclear ambitions are being conducted for peaceful purposes.
The U.S. and other nations have toughened political and economic sanctions against Iran since a United Nations nuclear watchdog report speculated that Tehran is further along in making a nuclear weapon as previously believed.
In response to the sanctions, Iran has threatened to cut off oil shipments through the Strait of Hormuz, which the White House says will be met with a swift response by the U.S. Navy.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Rafael Romo, CNN Newswire
Mohammed Tawfeeq, Joe Sterling and Susanna Capelouto, CNN