Dec. 27, 2013 11:57pm Jason Howerton
VIENNA (TheBlaze/AP) — One of President Barack Obama’s biggest Democratic allies is putting pressure on the administration by urging Congress to pass sanctions legislation against Iran after Tehran announced a new generation of equipment to enrich uranium.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) told Fox News that the “Iranians are showing their true intentions.”
“If you’re talking about producing more advanced centrifuges that are only used to enrich uranium at a quicker rate … the only purposes of that and the only reason you won’t give us access to [a military research facility] is because you’re really not thinking about nuclear power for domestic energy — you’re thinking about nuclear power for nuclear weapons,” he said.
It’s now clear that Iran is taking steps to improve its ability to speed up uranium enrichment. The aggressive action could delay implementation of a nuclear deal with six world powers because Tehran’s moves are opposed by the United States and its allies.
Iran’s nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, said late Thursday that his country is building a new generation of centrifuges for uranium enrichment but they need further tests before they can be mass produced. His comments appeared aimed at countering criticism from Iranian hardliners by showing their country’s nuclear program is moving ahead and has not been halted by the accord.
But two officials familiar with Iran’s nuclear activities said Tehran has gone even further by interpreting a provision of the interim Geneva nuclear deal in a way rejected by many, if not all, of the six powers that sealed the Geneva deal with Iran.
They told The Associated Press Friday that Iranian technical experts told counterparts from the six powers last week that some of the cutting-edge machines have been installed at a research tract of one of Iran’s enriching sites. They gave no numbers.
Iran argued that it had a right to do so under the research and development provisions of the Nov. 24 Geneva accord, said the officials, who represent countries that are members of the Vienna-based U.N. nuclear agency monitoring Tehran’s atomic activities. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the closed meetings.
Iran’s approach is being hotly disputed by the United States and other representatives of the six powers – the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany – said the officials. They said they have argued that installing any centrifuge that increases overall numbers, particularly a new model, violates Tehran’s commitment to freeze the amount and type of enriching machines at Nov. 24 levels.