Reporting from Vienna and Beirut — Iran has expanded the number of machines producing medical reactor-grade uranium, an incremental step that could increase its ability to produce the highly refined material necessary to build a nuclear bomb, said two diplomats in Vienna, home of the U.N. atomic watchdog agency.
The disclosure, first revealed by news agencies Friday, ups pressure on diplomats struggling to find a resolution of the confrontation between Tehran and the United States, Israel and their European allies over the nuclear program.
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva arrives in Tehran this weekend at the head of a large delegation for a summit of developing nations. Analysts say Lula hopes to broker a deal with Iran to avoid a rancorous U.N. Security Council debate over sanctions against the Islamic Republic and to bolster Brazil's diplomatic profile.
The U.S., France and Britain, permanent members of the Security Council, are pushing for tough sanctions. However, they face stiff resistance from Russia and China, which hold veto power, along with non-permanent members such as Turkey and Brazil.