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Official says Iran able to make atom centrifuges

Tehran announced last month the ability to make nuclear fuel on an industrial scale

Official says Iran able to make atom centrifuges

Iran signalled further progress in its disputed nuclear program yesterday, with a senior official quoted as saying it was capable of mass producing the machines used for enriching uranium.
Iran is embroiled in a deepening standoff with the West over its atomic ambitions. Major powers suspect it is seeking to build bombs but Teheran says it only wants to generate electricity so that it can export more of its oil and gas.
The Islamic Republic last month said it could now make nuclear fuel on an industrial scale, a move that would take it closer to developing atomic weapons if it wanted to, but Western experts expressed doubt about the announcement.
Centrifuges, tubular devices that are tricky to calibrate, spin at supersonic speed to refine fuel for power plants or, if it is enriched to high levels, nuclear explosives.
"One day Iran had problems to produce one centrifuge but right now we have obtained the technology for mass production of centrifuges," Ali Akbar Velayati, international affairs adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told the Jomohouri Eslami newspaper in an interview.
Velayati's comments came as six world powers - the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany - were due to meet in London to review Tehran's nuclear program.
He made clear Iran's determination not to bow to Western pressure and give up its atomic work, indicating that if it did so major powers would just make other demands on Tehran.
"If we retreat in our nuclear issues tomorrow they will have a problem with our missiles development," Velayati said. "Maybe they will have problems with the numbers of our army or Revolutionary Guards."
Iran aims to have 3,000 centrifuges running at its main enrichment plant Natanz by the end of May. That could be enough to refine uranium for one bomb within a year if the machines ran for long periods.
It said in April it had launched more than 1,300 centrifuges and begun feeding them with uranium for enrichment, but diplomats said it was "test-scale" and nowhere near the industrial-scale capacity Iran's president had talked about.
Many observers believe Tehran is playing up its progress for political reasons before it has genuinely mastered enrichment technology.
Senior officials from the six powers at the London meeting were expected to discuss last week's talks between European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana and Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani in Turkey.
While nothing definitive resulted from those talks, which will reconvene this month, the overall tone was that they had been constructive.
The United Nations has already imposed two sets of sanctions on Iran over its refusal to stop its sensitive nuclear work.


Updated : 2021-04-11 22:16 GMT+08:00