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Western officials fear Iran hiding equipment it could use to build nuke — report

Intelligence officials believe Tehran has parts for centrifuges that could enable it to enrich uranium to weapons-grade level, Telegraph reports

Illustrative: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visits the Bushehr nuclear power plant just outside of Bushehr, Iran, January 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Iranian Presidency Office, Mohammad Berno, File)
Illustrative: Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visits the Bushehr nuclear power plant just outside of Bushehr, Iran, January 13, 2015. (AP Photo/Iranian Presidency Office, Mohammad Berno, File)

Iran is hiding equipment from international officials that could enable it to build a nuclear bomb, according to a Monday report.

Unnamed Western intelligence officials told The Telegraph that they fear Iran is concealing essential parts and pumps for centrifuges that are used to enrich uranium to the weapons-grade level of 90 percent.

The machinery is allegedly hidden at secret sites run by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the report said.

Iran denies its nuclear program has military goals, but has repeatedly threatened to destroy Israel and has said that it can enrich uranium to 90% quickly if it wants.

Tehran signed a deal with world powers that limited its nuclear program, including on weapons, in exchange for sanctions relief in 2015. It began breaching its commitments to the agreement after former US president Donald Trump left the deal and reimposed sanctions in 2018.

Since the US left the nuclear deal, Iran has walked away from the pact’s limitations on its stockpile of uranium and has begun enriching up 20%, a technical step away from weapons-grade levels.

Iran has been accused of hiding its nuclear activities from the international community, including by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Iran’s conservative-dominated parliament last month ordered the government to start limiting some inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency, after which the head of the agency, Rafael Grossi, hammered out a temporary technical deal with Tehran.

They confirmed that Iran will continue to allow access to UN inspectors to its nuclear sites — but will for three months bar inspections of other, non-nuclear sites.

According to a report last month, IAEA inspectors last summer found uranium particles at two Iranian nuclear sites that Iran tried to block access to.

Iranian authorities had stonewalled the inspectors from reaching the sites for seven months before the inspection, and Iranian officials have failed to explain the presence of the uranium, Reuters reported, citing diplomats familiar with the UN agency’s work.

The Biden administration has repeatedly said it will return to the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), if Iran first returns to compliance. Iran demands the US lift sanctions first, putting the two sides at a stalemate.

Israeli officials, including Netanyahu, have already begun voicing opposition to the Biden administration’s desire to rejoin the deal, putting Jerusalem and Washington at odds on the issue. Some leading Israeli officials in recent months have warned of military action to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

Nonetheless, Israeli and US officials agreed to set up a joint team for sharing intelligence about Iran’s nuclear program during recent strategic talks, according to a report last week.

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