VIENNA -- The UN atomic agency Wednesday detailed rapid Iranian progress in two programs that the West fears are geared toward making nuclear weapons, saying Tehran has upgraded its uranium enrichment facilities and advanced in building a plutonium-producing reactor.
In a confidential report obtained by The Associated Press, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Tehran had installed close to 700 high-tech centrifuges used for uranium enrichment, which can produce the core of nuclear weapons. It also said Tehran had added hundreds of older-generation machines at its main enrichment site to bring the total number to more than 13,000.
Iran denies that either its enrichment program or the reactor will be used to make nuclear arms. Most international concern has focused on its enrichment, because it is more advanced than the reactor and Iran has the capacity to enrich to weapons-grade uranium.
But the IAEA devoted more space to the reactor Wednesday than it has in previous reports. While its language was technical, a senior diplomat who closely follows the IAEA's monitoring of Iran's nuclear facilities said that reflected increased international concerns about the potential proliferation dangers it represents as a completion date approaches.
At Parcin, a military site where Iran is suspected of testing blasts to set off a nuclear charge, Iran has started paving over the area where the alleged experiments took place, the agency said, referring to satellite photos of the site. It was the latest in a series of moves the agency suspects were made to cover up evidence.
But Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's chief delegate to the IAEA, described the allegations against Iran as "forged and fabricated."