Iran has launched “a cascade of domestically-made uranium enrichment centrifuges” of the latest generation at a nuclear enrichment facility in Natanz, Fars news agency reported on Wednesday, citing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Iran now has a total of 9,000 operating centrifuges for nuclear enrichment, Ahmadinejad said.
“We had a total of 6,000 operating centrifuges; an additional 3,000 have been launched,” he said.
Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast announced in July 2011 that Iran was planning to launch “cascades of advanced centrifuges” for domestic uranium enrichment. He said the project has been “under control” of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Gholamreza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization in 1997-2009, said in 2009 that the Islamic Republic planned to install a total of 50,000 enrichment centrifuges by 2014.
Ahmadinejad’s announcement comes the same day as Iran announced that it had inserted its homemade fuel rods into a nuclear reactor.
Tehran says it needs the uranium fuel to produce medical isotopes, an assertion challenged by Western powers and Israel who suspect Iran of pursuing a secret weapons program.