Washington, Feb.20 (ANI): Atomic inspectors have found that Iran recently understated by a third how much uranium it has enriched. The officials also declared for the first time that the amount of uranium that Tehran had now amassed - more than a ton - was sufficient, with added purification, to make an atom bomb.
In a report issued in Vienna, the International Atomic Energy Agency said it had discovered an additional 460 pounds of low-enriched uranium, a third more than Iran had previously disclosed.
The agency made the find during its annual physical inventory of nuclear materials at Iran's sprawling desert enrichment plant at Natanz, the New York Times reports.
Independent nuclear weapons experts expressed surprise at the disclosure and criticized the atomic inspectors for making independent checks on Iran's progress only once a year.
"It's worse than we thought," Gary Milhollin, director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, said in an interview.
"It's alarming that the actual production was underreported by a third," he added.
The political impact of the report, while hard to measure, could be significant for the Obama administration.
Obama has said that he wants to open direct talks with Iran about its nuclear program. But starting that process could take months, and the report suggests that Iran is moving ahead briskly with its uranium enrichment. United Nations official acknowledged that there were longstanding suspicions that Iran could have additional uranium enrichment sites that the inspectors had not seen or heard about.
"Everyone's nervous and worried about the possibility of Iran pursuing a clandestine capability," he said.
The disclosure of the unaccounted third came in the atomic agency's quarterly report to its board, which was made public on Thursday.
The report noted that Iran had now produced a total of 1,010 kilograms - or 2,227 pounds - of low-enriched uranium.(ANI)