Iran is believed to have increased the number of centrifuges in an underground nuclear plant by nearly a third in three months, diplomats say, underlining the tough task facing major powers pressing Tehran to curb its atomic activity.
Russia criticized the European Union on Wednesday for imposing new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program and called for a fresh round of talks between world powers and Tehran as soon as possible. The Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing "deep concern" over EU sanctions imposed on Tuesday against major Iranian state companies in the oil and gas industry and the central bank.
The Iranian economy is finding it difficult to cope with the economic sanctions, but the extensive financial aid to Syrian President Bashar Assad has not stopped and is creating a rift at the top of the Iranian regime. The London-based Times newspaper reported Monday that Tehran has transferred some $10 billion in support of Assad's war against Syrian rebels. Western intelligence sources say the failure to decide the Syrian conflict in favor of Assad has caused a split between Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and Iran's spymaster in the past 14 years, Qassem Suleimani