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March 26, 2015 4:53 pm

Report: In Nuclear Deal, US May Allow Iran to Operate Hundreds of Centrifuges at Secret Fordo Facility

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Satellite view of the uranium-enrichment facility near Qom, Iran. Photo: DigitalGlobe. – The US is considering allowing Iran to retain its nuclear centrifuges at the Islamic Republic’s once-secretive Fordo fortified underground military site, officials involved in the Iran nuclear negotiations told The Associated Press.

The report said that in exchange for being allowed to keep the several hundred centrifuges at Fordo, Iran would not be able to do work there that would allow it to develop a nuclear weapon, and the site would be subject to international inspections. At the same time, Iran would also be required to scale back the number of centrifuges at other nuclear sites such as Natanz. Centrifuges are used to enrich uranium, which is necessary for a nuclear weapon.

The officials added that instead of enriching uranium at Fordo, the centrifuges can be used for separating out isotopes from elements such as zinc, xenon, and germanium, which are used in medicine, industry, and science.

Officials said that the goal of a deal with Iran is to restrict the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program enough to keep the country at least a year away from producing an atomic weapon for the duration of the agreement, which will run at least 10 years. But critics contend that allowing Iran to keep the Fordo site intact could be problematic since it could be quickly repurposed to enrich uranium for a nuclear weapon.

The Fordo site has drawn concern for years due to the fact that it is deep underground in a mountainside, making it unreachable through airstrikes.

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