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For Iran, Enriching Uranium Only Gets Easier

Posted on March 9 2010 6:47 am
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by William J. Broad

In the Iranian desert, at a sprawling industrial site ringed by barbed wire and antiaircraft guns, a shift in the enrichment of uranium is producing global jitters because it could shorten Iran’s path to the acquisition of nuclear weapons.

It is also illustrating one of the peculiarities of uranium enrichment, a version of the rich getting richer, really fast. The tricky process accelerates as it moves ahead. “The higher the concentration, the easier it gets,” said Houston G. Wood III, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the University of Virginia who specializes in nuclear enrichment. The process is, as scientists like to say, nonlinear.

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