By ALI AKBAR DAREINI and BRIAN MURPHY, Assocaited Press
TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran has begun uranium enrichment at a new underground site built to withstand possible airstrikes, a leading hard-line newspaper reported Sunday in another show of defiance against Western pressure to rein in Tehran’s nuclear program.
The operations at the bunker-like facility south of Tehran, reported by the Kayhan daily newspaper, are small in comparison to Iran’s main enrichment site. But the centrifuges at the underground labs are considered more efficient and are shielded from aerial surveillance and protected against airstrikes by up to 300 feet (90 meters) of mountain rock.
Uranium enrichment is at the core of the international standoff over Iran’s nuclear program. The U.S. and its allies fear Iran could use its enrichment facilities to develop high-grade nuclear material for warheads.
Iran – which claims it only seeks nuclear reactors for energy and research – has sharply increased its threats and military posturing against stronger pressures, including U.S. sanctions targeting Iran’s Central Bank in attempts to complicate its ability to sell oil.
A senior commander of the Revolutionary Guard force was quoted as saying Tehran’s leadership has decided to order the closure of the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic oil route, if the country’s petroleum exports are blocked. Revolutionary Guard ground forces also staged war games in eastern Iran in an apparent display of resolve against U.S. forces just over the border in Afghanistan.
Iranian officials have issued similar threats, but this is the strongest statement yet by a top commander in the security establishment.
To read more, visit: Â http://apnews.myway.com/article/20120109/D9S54NMG1.html
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