Iran to mass produce speedier centrifuges: Salehi
Iran will within months begin mass production of second generation centrifuges capable of enriching uranium three times faster than existing machines, atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi said.world Updated: Apr 11, 2010 11:55 IST
Iran will within months begin mass production of second generation centrifuges capable of enriching uranium three times faster than existing machines, atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi said.
"The mass production of second generation centrifuges will begin in the coming months," Salehi said in an interview on state television broadcast late Saturday.
Iran currently enriches uranium at its plant in the central city of Natanz using first generation IR-1 centrifuges.
On Friday the Islamic republic unveiled a third generation centrifuge which it claims can enrich uranium six times faster than the IR-1 system.
Natanz has a capacity of 60,000 centrifuges and Iran has been steadily enriching uranium there for years in defiance of three sets of UN sanctions and threat of a fourth.
Enriching uranium lies at the heart of the controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear programme as the material can be used either to power a nuclear reactor or to make an atom bomb.
The enrichment method used by Iran is a classic type in which uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas is whizzed around in a centrifuge at supersonic speeds.
Salehi said Iranian scientists will inject UF6 gas in the third generation centrifuge in few months, adding however, "maybe it needs a year for us to witness a chain of them."
"Once our appraisal of third generation (centrifuge) is complete and we reach its mass production, the manufacture of the second generation machine will be stopped."
The UN nuclear watchdog in its February report said Iran has installed 8,610 first generation IR-1 centrifuges at Natanz.
Western countries led by Washington suspect that Iran's nuclear programme masks a weapons drive. Iran denies these accusations, saying it is enriching uranium only to produce electricity for a growing population.