Iran says it enhances uranium enrichment
TEHRAN - Agence France-PresseIran is forging on with its controversial nuclear activities by activating hundreds more uranium enrichment centrifuges, according to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
“There are currently 11,000 centrifuges active in enrichment facilities” in Iran, he was quoted by state media as saying late on July 24 in a meeting with supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and senior regime officials. That was more than the 10,000 centrifuges Iran was last said to have had operating, according to a May 25 report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Ahmadinejad’s reported comments did not give a more precise figure nor detail how many centrifuges were now working at each of Iran’s two enrichment sites: Natanz and the heavily fortified underground bunker of Fordo.
Fordo has emerged as one of the most contentious points in fruitless negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 group of nations, which comprises the top U.N. Security Council powers the United States, Britain, France, Russia, and China, plus Germany. The Security Council has demanded Iran suspend all uranium enrichment and has imposed four sets of sanctions to pressure it to comply. The IAEA, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, has said it suspects there is a military dimension to Iran’s nuclear program. The U.S. and the EU added their own sanctions on Iran, but the Islamic republic has defiantly said it would continue with its nuclear activities.
The IAEA report in May said there were 9,330 installed centrifuges in Natanz, of which 8,818 were being fed uranium hexafluoride gas to produce enriched uranium. The Fordo facility, near the holy city of Qom, had 696 working centrifuges, the report said.
The enrichment activities have produced stockpiles of uranium enriched to purities of 3.5 percent and 19.75 percent.