Iran remains adamant that it will push ahead with its uranium enrichment programme
File photo of an Iranian technician walking at the Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility, south of Tehran. Iran announced Tuesday it is installing new centrifuges with "better quality and speed" to enrich uranium in its nuclear facilities, defying international demands it halt its atomic activities. © Behrouz Mehri - AFP/File
Iran remains adamant that it will push ahead with its uranium enrichment programme
AFP
Last updated: July 19, 2011

Iran says installing speedier nuclear centrifuges

Iran announced Tuesday it is installing new centrifuges with "better quality and speed" to enrich uranium in its nuclear facilities, defying international demands it halt its atomic activities.

"The installation of new centrifuges with better quality and speed is ongoing. We have announced it and the agency (UN atomic watchdog) has full supervision on them," Iranian foreign minister spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters at his weekly press briefing.

"They are fully aware that Iran's peaceful nuclear activity continues to progress. This is another confirmation that Islamic republic successful stride in its nuclear activities," he added, responding to question of whether Tehran has installed the new generation of centrifuges, which enrich uranium at supersonic speed.

Despite being targeted by four sets of sets of UN Security Council sanctions over its refusal to suspend uranium enrichment, Iran remains adamant that it will push ahead with the programme.

In June, Iran's nuclear chief Fereydoun Abbasi Davani announced that the Islamic republic would expand its production of 20 percent enriched uranium and move the work from its main enrichment plant in Natanz to a smaller site at Fordo.

Iran has long been producing low or 3.5 percent enriched uranium (LEU) at Natanz, but started producing uranium at the higher level of purity of 20 percent in February 2010, ostensibly to make the fuel for a medical research reactor.

The UN Security Council in New York has repeatedly ordered Tehran to halt all uranium enrichment until the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had verified the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear activities.

Uranium enrichment is the most sensitive part of the programme because it can be used to produce both the fuel for a nuclear reactor and the fissile material for an atomic warhead.

The West accuses Tehran of seeking to build a bomb under the guise of a civilian power programme, a charge which Iran strongly denies.

Iran has over 8,000 centrifuges of the first generation IR-1, with nearly 6,000 actively purifying uranium to the 3.5 percent level, according to the latest report by the IAEA, the UN nuclear watchdog, in May.

Iran through its enrichment activities has amassed four tons of LEU around 3.5 percent) and 60 kilograms of HEU (highly enriched uranium of 20 percent), according to the same report.

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