Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohammed ElBaradei, said on Monday that Iran had begun to test new uranium enrichment equipment, a move that would significantly increase the nation’s nuclear research and development capacity.
The decision to go ahead with the controversial test seems to imply that Iran’s response to calls to cease its nuclear program is to speed the program, rather than stopping it, according to reports in the New York Times.
The new test could lead to the doubling of Iran’s current nuclear capabilities. In an interview on Monday, ElBaradei stated that "based on our most recent inspections, the second centrifuge cascade is in place and ready to go," referring to Iran’s sporadic testing of its single "cascade" of 164 centrifuges which turn ordinary uranium into a fuel usable for nuclear power plants as well as nuclear weapons.
Iran publicly celebrated its first production of enriched uranium last February. Despite calls to cease its nuclear program, Iran has insisted that it intends to use its nuclear power solely for civilian energy purposes, and not for nuclear weapons. Therefore, it says, development of its nuclear program is fully within its right.