According to a Reuters report, Iran has installed 18,000 uranium-enrichment centrifuges.
This was confirmed by the country’s outgoing nuclear chief, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani. He was quoted by Iranian media on Saturday.
The U.S. and its allies are pressing Iran to stop its uranium enrichment program, which they assume is aimed at developing a nuclear weapons capability. Until now, Iran has refused, insisting that its nuclear activity is for ‘purely peaceful purposes.’
New Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has welcomed new talks with world powers over the program but continues to insist on Iran’s right to enrich uranium.
The ISNA news agency quoted Abbasi-Davani as saying that Iran has 17,000 older “first-generation” IR-1 centrifuges, of which 10,000 are operating and 7,000 are ready to start operations.
A report last May from the U.N. nuclear watchdog indicated that Iran had installed roughly 16,600 IR-1 machines in two separate facilities.
Abbasi-Davani also said there were 1,000 new, more advanced IR-2m centrifuges ready to start operations; these are several times faster than the IR-1 machine.
The International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) said Iran had installed a total of 689 of these advanced machines.
President Rouhani has now appointed Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s previous foreign minister, to take over as head of the uranium centrifuge program.