Iran plans centrifuge expansion

29 January 2021

The Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI) has announced plans to install 1000 new IR2M centrifuge machines at the Natanz nuclear site in the next three months, AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi told reporters gathered for Parliamentary Speaker Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf’s visit to the Fordow plant yesterday. According to the Fars news agency, Kamalvandi said Iran is enriching uranium using 100% indigenous technology.

AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi (Image: Fars news agency)

At the turn of the year, Tehran informed IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi that it planned to start 20% uranium enrichment, which is a purity level five times' that which it agreed under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPoA). The announcement followed the passing of a new law in December by the Majles, the Iranian parliament, which requires the AEOI to produce at least 120 kg of 20% enriched uranium annually at the Fordow nuclear site. The law also stipulates that Iran will no longer be bound by the NPT Safeguards Agreement and Additional Protocol it had signed with the IAEA, meaning that access to its nuclear sites by international inspectors would cease.

Asked about the possibility of Iran’s ceasing its voluntary implementation of the Additional Protocol, Kamalvandi said yesterday: "We will abide by the law completely and the parliament and the government will make decisions on the issue." Kamalvandi has said the AEOI has the capacity to produce 120 kg of uranium with 20% purity in eight months, which is four months faster than the one-year period required by the recently approved law.

On reports that US President Joe Biden wants a renegotiation of the contents of the JCPOA before he agrees to rejoin it, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said the USA was in no position to ask for any conditions, adding that it is Tehran that has its own terms to allow the US back into the agreement.

The news agency said the foreign minister had "reiterated time and again that Tehran would not change even a single word of the agreement, and cautioned the US that it needs to pay reparations for the damage it has inflicted on Iran through its retreat from the nuclear agreement".

Researched and written by World Nuclear News