The uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz (epa)
November 24, 2006 -- The UN's nuclear watchdog agency says Iran has pledged to give international inspectors new access to records and equipment from two nuclear sites.
International Atomic Energy Agency chief Muhammad el-Baradei said Iran had agreed to allow inspectors to take environmental samples from equipment at a former military site at Lavizan and to allow the UN access to records from the Natanz uranium-enrichment plant.
The announcement came as the UN nuclear watchdog's governing board on November 23 rejected an Iranian request for help in building a heavy-water reactor at Arak.
A control panel at the Bushehr nuclear power plant (Fars)
CASCADES AND CENTRIFUGES: Experts and pundits alike continue to debate the goals and status of Iran's nuclear program. It remains unclear whether the program is, as Tehran insists, a purely peaceful enegy project or, as the United States claims, part of an effort to acquire nuclear weapons. On June 7, 2006, RFE/RL correspondent Charles Recknagel spoke with nuclear expert Shannon Kile of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden to help sort through some of the technical issues involved. "[Natanz] will be quite a large plant," Kile said. "There will be about 50,000 centrifuges and how much enriched uranium that can produce [is] hard to say because the efficiency of the centrifuges is not really known yet. But it would clearly be enough to be able to produce enough [highly-enriched uranium] for a nuclear weapon in fairly short order, if that's the route that they chose to go...." (more)