“(Using) the Natanz enrichment facility to produce the annual fuel of Bushehr nuclear power plant, we need to build 30,000 new (IR-2) centrifuges,” Salehi said. (Fars News Agency, 13 March.)
Salehi’s estimate, if it becomes part of Iranian requirements at the ongoing nuclear talks, could create an impasse. The West has been seeking to keep Iran’s "breakout" capability, the amount of fissure material for one nuclear weapon, at at least 6 months to a year. Such plan would limit the number of old (IR-1) centrifuges to fewer than 6,000. Having 30,000 operating IR-2s, each 15 times more powerful than IR-1s, would give Iran an almost immediate breakout capability.