Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said today that Iran has already installed 5,000 centrifuges at Natanz Uranium Enrichment Facility (UEF). Ahmadinejad said Iran previously had only 3,000 centrifuges in operation.
Ahmadinajad said the installation of the additional centrifuge started last April and will continue until it reaches 6,000 units in near future. He did not provide any details on the new units, whether they included any IR-2 models, the more advanced machines capable of enriching uranium three to five times faster than the older P-1 models in operation at Natanz.
With 6,000 centrifuges in place, Iran can enrich a significant amount of uranium in short order. Iran does not have any civilian nuclear reactor in operation. Bushehr power plant is being built by the Russians, but they have already provided the uranium fuel needed for the plant to start operation.
There has never been a precise explanation by the Iranian government as why it is accelerating its program now to produce all this enriched uranium where there are no power plants in existence, with the Russian having already supplied fuel for Bushehr. The West suspects Iran’s growing inventory of enriched uranium could be further enriched to build uranium metal, the basic element in building nuclear bomb.
Iran denies plans to make a bomb, but on Thursday announced that it will stop its cooperation with IAEA on answering questions raised on its “alleged studies,” a term used by IAEA to refer to an alleged research program to make nuclear weapon.
Ahmadinejad also claimed today that Iran has been given green light to install up to 6,000 centrifuges by Group 5+1. The claim has not yet been verified by any of those countries.