Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Tuesday said Iran "needs" 19 times more nuclear centrifuges than the amount being offered by world powers in ongoing talks seeking a permanent agreement by July 20.
"Their aim is that we accept a capacity of 10,000 separative work units, which is equivalent to 10,000 centrifuges of the older type that we already have," said Khamenei on his website, reports Al Arabiya.
However Khamenei, who makes all final decisions in Iran, added "our officials say we need 190,000 centrifuges. Perhaps not today, but in two to five years that is the country's absolute need."
The number Khamenei cites is ten times the current 19,000 centrifuges possessed by Iran.
Many have warned about the danger of a nuclear deal being reached in the negotiations which does not remove the centrifuges, arguing that such a situation would leave the Islamic regime with a sudden breakout capacity of six to seven weeks in which it could enrich uranium quickly and achieve a nuclear bomb.
Iran has previously insisted that it will never give up on what it sees as its right to uranium enrichment.
Khamenei's statement comes after Western diplomats said last week that Iran has reduced demandsfor the size of its future nuclear enrichment program, even as they added it would not be easy to clinch a deal by the July 20 deadline.
Similarly, Intelligence and Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said last week that Israel does not expect world powers to reach a nuclear agreement with Iran by the deadline.
Shedding further doubt on the nuclear talks, a United Nations report in May revealed Iran is bypassing the sanctions which were meant as an economic incentive to force the Islamic regime to abandon its nuclear program. Indeed, Khamenei in January revealed that the negotiations were merely a stalling tactic.
Also in January, Iranian lawmaker, cleric, and Majilis (council) member Mohammed Nabavian said "having a nuclear bomb is necessary to put down Israel."