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Iran Wants 30,000 New Generation Centrifuges for Fuel

Iran’s nuclear chief says his country will need 30,000 of its new generation centrifuges to meet domestic fuel demands.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 4/14/2014, 5:44 AM

Ali Akbar Salehi
Ali Akbar Salehi
Reuters

Iran’s nuclear chief, Ali Akbar Salehi, said on Sunday that his country will need 30,000 of its new generation centrifuges to meet domestic fuel demands, far more than the current number, AFP reports.

Salehi's comments came just days after the latest round of international talks in Vienna aimed at securing a long-term deal over Iran's disputed nuclear program.

The capability and number of centrifuges at Tehran's disposal has been a key concern among countries which suspect the Islamic republic's eventual goal is to build an atomic bomb.

Under a six-month interim deal which was reached between Iran and six world powers in November, the Islamic Republic agreed to freeze its uranium enrichment program in return for sanctions relief, including the transfer of some $4.2 billion in frozen overseas funds.

That interim agreement is meant to lead to a final accord that minimizes any potential Iranian nuclear weapons threat in return for a full lifting of sanctions.

Iran currently has nearly 19,000 centrifuges, including 10,000 of the so-called first generation being used to enrich uranium, noted AFP.

The country insists its nuclear activities are solely for civilian purposes.

"If we want to use the Natanz enrichment facility to produce the annual fuel of Bushehr nuclear power plant, we need to build 30,000 new centrifuges," Salehi was quoted by the Fars news agency as saying.

Under the deal with the West, Iran cannot increase its number of centrifuges, but in February it announced it was developing new ones that are 15 times more powerful than those currently used.

Any final deal with the West may involve Iran slashing its number of centrifuges, changing the design of a new reactor at Arak and giving UN inspectors more oversight.

The Bushehr plant, which produces 1,000 megawatts of electricity, came into service in 2011 after several delays blamed on technical problems. Tehran took control of the plant from Russia last year.

In October, Salehi said Iran had built a fuel production line for its sole nuclear power plant which would go on stream within three months.