Iran starts installation of a new generation of uranium enrichment machines.
Iran has started installing a new generation of uranium enrichment machines at its Natanz nuclear site last month, Iran’s atomic energy organization chief was quoted as saying on Wednesday by Iranian media.
“From last month the installation of the new generation of these machines started in the Shahid Ahmadi Roshan complex (Natanz),” Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani was quoted as saying by the Iranian Students’ News Agency, ISNA.
“We have produced the machines as planned and we are carrying out the installation gradually … to complete the tests relevant to the new generation of centrifuges.”
The UN nuclear watchdog had told its member states that Iran had announced plans to install and operate advanced uranium enrichment machines, in what would be a technological leap allowing it to significantly speed up activity that the West fears could be used to develop a nuclear weapon.
In a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Tehran said it would introduce the new IR2-m centrifuges to its main enrichment plant near the central town of Natanz, according to an IAEA communication to member states seen by Reuters on January 31.
According to the Fars news agency, Mr. Abbasi-Davani also said on Wednesday that the new generation of centrifuges were specifically for lower-grade enrichment of uranium below five per cent purity, and not the higher-grade enrichment to 20 per cent that most worries the West.
The development comes as the UN and the superpowers scramble to deal with similar defiance from North Korea which launched a third nuclear test last week.
U.S. President, Barack Obama, has vowed to take “swift and credible action” over the North’s “highly provocative” test which appeared to bring Pyongyang closer to producing a viable weapon.
The United Nations Security Council held an emergency meeting in New York on Tuesday morning to “strongly condemn” the test.
But North Korea has remained defiant, describing the test as a “preliminary measure” and threatening “stronger” actions unless the U.S. ends its “hostility”.