VIENNA — Diplomats said Iran is on the threshold of boosting output of material that can be turned into weapons-grade uranium used in nuclear warheads.
One diplomat told The Associated Press that Tehran technically is ready within days to ramp up its production of 20 percent enriched uranium by nearly 700 centrifuges.
That would nearly double present output at Iran’s heavily fortified Fordo enrichment plant.
Two other diplomats could not confirm the 700 number but said Tehran has put a sizable number of centrifuges at Fordo that previously were installed but not ready to operate under vacuum.
It takes only a few days to begin enrichment with machines that are under vacuum.
Iran denies wanting nuclear arms. The diplomats demanded anonymity Thursday because they were not authorized to discuss the issue.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO
44 killed in fighting between rebels and army
GOMA — Forty-four people were killed in new fighting Thursday between the Congolese army and M23 rebels, ending a two-month cease-fire, Congolese officials said.
Both sides blamed the other for starting the fighting.
“The M23 has attacked us around 5 a.m. this morning,” said Col. Olivier Hamuli, who added that fighting against 700 rebels continued until about 3 p.m.
Forty-four M23 fighters were killed in the battle, the governor of North Kivu province, Julien Paluku, told The Associated Press by phone.
The M23 rebels charged that the Congolese army initiated the hostilities. On Saturday, political branch spokesman Bertrand Bisimwa accused the army of attacking the rebels in Kitagoma, near the Ugandan border.
However, local sources say the attack in Kitagoma was carried out by an armed group allied with the M23 and the rebels are only looking for an excuse to start fighting again.