Iran may be planning to build more nuke sites: IAEA

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Washington, Mar. 28 (ANI): International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors and Western intelligence agencies have expressed suspicion about constructing more nuclear enrichment sites.

Six months after the surfacing of a secret atomic facility in Iran, the country's Atomic Energy Organization head Ali Akbar Salehi told the Iranian Student News Agency that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has ordered work to begin soon on two new plants.

"The plants will be built inside mountains. God willing we may start the construction of two new enrichment sites in the Iranian new year (which began March 21)," The New York Times quoted Salehi, as saying.

After the disclosure of the Qum site six months ago, Iran boasted that it would build 10 more enrichment plants in coming years.

But IAEA inspectors in Vienna believe that Salehi is accurate when he referred to the two sites.

IAEA inspectors are now searching for evidence of the two sites and are looking into a mystery about the whereabouts of recently manufactured uranium enrichment equipment.

American officials share the IAEA's suspicions and are examining satellite evidence about a number of suspected sites but they have found no vital clues about it.

Meanwhile, one European official was also quoted as saying that "while we have some evidence," Iran's heavy restrictions on where inspectors can travel and the existence of numerous tunnelling projects were making the detection of any new enrichment plants especially difficult.

According to sources, the most compelling circumstantial evidence is that while Iran appears to be making new equipment to enrich uranium, that equipment is not showing up in the main plant that inspectors visit regularly.

Nor is it at the Natanz site in the desert, or the new facility at Qum, which inspectors now visit periodically.

That has heightened suspicions that the equipment, produced in small factories around Iran, is being held in a clandestine storage area for later shipment or installed elsewhere. (ANI)

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