A threat of Iran nuclear testing
An article on a website praises the idea. Also, the regime is pushing uranium enrichment.
VIENNA, Austria - An article on a Revolutionary Guard website praising the idea of Iran testing a nuclear bomb is raising alarms in Western intelligence circles, which interpret it as evidence of strong backing in the Islamic Republic for such a move.
Titled "The Day After the First Iranian Nuclear Test - a Normal Day," the article coincides with other public or suspected activities that the United States and its allies see as indications that Tehran wants to possess atomic arms.
"The day after the first Iranian nuclear test for us Iranians will be an ordinary day, but in the eyes of many of us, it will have a new shine, from the power and dignity of the nation," says the article published on the Gerdab site run by the Revolutionary Guard.
A translation that was vetted by the Associated Press was provided by a Western official who asked for anonymity because of the nature of his information.
Iran denies nuclear-weapons intentions - while moving consistently closer to such a capacity.
An International Atomic Energy Agency report last month listed "high-voltage firing and instrumentation for explosives testing over long distances and possibly underground" as one of seven "areas of concern" that Iran may be conducting clandestine nuclear-weapons work.
Adding to concerns Wednesday, the country's nuclear chief announced that his country would soon install more advanced equipment at a fortified underground site to allow it to enrich uranium faster and to higher levels.
Iran says it wants to enrich only to power a future network of reactors. But over the last two years it has started to enrich uranium to a level higher than what is needed for nuclear fuel and closer to the grade used to make the fissile core of nuclear warheads.
On Wednesday, vice president and nuclear head Fereidoun Abbasi announced that Iran would increase its capacity to enrich to that higher level - near 20 percent - by installing more efficient centrifuges and would triple the output of the higher-grade material.
The move comes despite four rounds of U.N. Security Council sanctions over Tehran's refusal to halt enrichment.
Abbasi said that the new-generation centrifuges would be set up at the Fordo site near the holy city of Qom in central Iran.
The area is heavily protected by the powerful Revolutionary Guard.