UN sees new installations at Iran n-site

Adding weight to its announcement of a nuclear upgrade, Tehran has shown high-level UN officials high-tech equipment positioned at its main uranium enrichment site meant to vastly accelerate output of material that can be used for both reactor fuel and atomic arms, a senior diplomat said Thursday.

The diplomat spoke to The Associated Press shortly after the officials returned from Tehran, acknowledging that their latest in a series of trips to the Iranian capital failed to reach a deal to restart an investigation into suspicions that Iran is pursuing nuclear arms.

Herman Naeckerts, who headed the International Atomic Energy Agency team that visited Iran, said "remaining differences'' scuttled attempts to finalise an agreement on how such an investigation should be conducted. He declined to say whether there was progress.

With expectations for success low even before the start of the latest negotiating attempt, interest focused on Iran's move to install a new generation of centrifuges at Natanz, its main uranium enriching site.

Iran announced the start of installations during the IAEA team's one-day visit Wednesday at about the same time that the diplomat said the group was shown "a small number'' of the machines at the site.

The diplomat said those centrifuges were ready to be installed. The diplomat, who closely follows Iran's nuclear program, demanded anonymity because his information was confidential.

The new-generation centrifuges can enrich uranium four to five times faster than Iran's present working model. The move to enrich further will rile Israel, which sees Iran's nuclear program as an existential threat.

It also is likely to hurt chances of progress at talks in Kazakhstan later this month between Iran and six world powers seeking to blunt Iran's enrichment program.

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