Iran testing uranium enrichment technology

Iran will be testing more efficient uranium enrichment technology, an official from the country’s energy agency said Saturday.

Behrouz Kamalvand, spokesman for Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, provided the information to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the world's nuclear watchdog.

“The new generation of centrifuges have been produced with a higher capacity compared to the first and second generation of machinery and have undergone preliminary tests,” Kamalvand was quoted as saying, according to state news agency Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).

The new centrifuges, the official added, is for the purpose of enhancing enrichment machinery and increasing fuel used for power plants and a medical research reactor.

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This news comes just two weeks after a group of Western nations struck a short-term deal with Iran that’s meant to slow its nuclear program.

Over the next six months, the deal limits how much uranium Iran can enrich, caps the country’s nuclear stockpile and would freeze work on one nuclear reactor believed to have the capability to produce plutonium.

A final deal could be achieved if Iran meets the guidelines of this first one.

President Obama said on Saturday that there’s a 50 percent chance of a final deal next year.

“I wouldn't say that it is more than 50-50 but we have to try,” he said at Brookings Institution’s Saban Forum in Washington.

Israeli leaders and skeptical members of Congress, meanwhile, want the U.S. to enact more powerful sanctions against Iran. The White House has asked lawmakers to hold off on additional measures during the six-month period. Some have suggested they’d move ahead with a bill containing stronger sanctions despite the request.

During his two-day trip this week to Israel, Secretary of State John Kerry assured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that existing U.S. sanctions targeting Iran would remain in place.

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