Ali-Akbar Salehi, Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said that Iran has activated a full chain of 164 IR-6 centrifuges in the Natanz nuclear facility. Salehi's remarks were made in an interview that aired on channel 1 (Iran) on April 10, 2021, one day before the Natanz facility suffered a major explosion. He said that this chain was originally planned to be activated in seven or eight years. Salehi described nuclear progress in the Fordow facility, and said that Iran now has an enrichment capacity of 16,500 SWU, while it only had a capacity of 13,000 SWU before the JCPOA was signed in 2013. He said that it has been announced that the hall, in which the centrifuges are assembled at the Natanz facility has been restored and is back in operation, after it was damaged and put out of use in a 2020 explosion.
Salehi went on to say that the current facility in Natanz is scheduled to move deep into the mountains of Natanz by the end of the year. He added that Iran has surpassed a "technological threshold" and can now design centrifuges on its own, without resorting to reverse engineering. Salehi said that Iran is capable of producing 190,000 SWU using IR-6 centrifuges within two or three years, but it does not want to do so, but rather it prefers to proceed at a pace of "natural growth."
To view the clip of Iranian nuclear chief Ali-Akbar Salehi on MEMRI TV, click here or below.
"We [Have] Activated A Full Chain Of IR-6 Centrifuges... Soon, Another Cascade Will Be Activated In Fordow"
Ali-Akbar Salehi: "Today, we activated a full chain of IR-6 centrifuges, and not a test chain. This full chain of IR-6 centrifuges was meant to be activated in 7-8 years.
"Obviously, according to the law passed by the Majles, we must produce and install 1,000 IR-6 centrifuges within a year. Today, we activated [in Natanz] a chain of 164 centrifuges. Soon, another cascade will be activated in Fordow. Two cascades are supposed to be activated in Fordow.
"Now We Have 16,500 SWU," More Than Before The JCPOA, "And This Capacity Is Constantly Growing"
"In the past three months, we have activated 1,000 IR-2M centrifuges. We have installed two IR-4 chains, these are full chains, not test chains. We now have enrichment capacity of 16,500 SWU. Our maximal enrichment capacity before the JCPOA - before 2013 - was 13,000 SWU. Now we have 16,500 SWU and this capacity is constantly growing. All of this is without using the IR-1 centrifuges that we pulled out as part of the JCPOA. If we added those, our capacity would have surpassed 25,000 SWU. However, we are taking slow and calculated steps forward.
"We [Have] Managed To Build A Hall Instead Of The One That Was Lost [In The July 2020 Explosion]; We Are Working 24/7 To Move All Our Sensitive Halls Into The Heart Of The Mountain Near Natanz"
"Unfortunately, about 10 months ago, the enemy blew up the hall, in which our centrifuges are assembled. But we did not stop. Today, it was announced that we had managed to build a hall instead of the one that was lost. This is temporary, of course. Currently, we are working 24/7 to move all our sensitive halls into the heart of the mountain near Natanz. We hope that these halls in the heart of the mountain will be ready by next year, so we can move these facilities to them. With regard to enrichment, I can tell you that Iran has reached the technological threshold, and we no longer have any problems. We are designing our own [centrifuges], and no longer in need of reverse engineering.
"If The Goal Is To Produce 1900,000 SWU Using IR-6 Centrifuges – We Can Do It In 2-3 Years, But We Don't Want To"
"The IR-9 centrifuge is about 5-meter long. It is a real monster. It has a large diameter and is very tall. It has 5 bellows. You cannot build a 5-meter rotor, because it could cause problems once it starts rotating. The rotors are divided to parts that connect to one another. The parts that connect the rotors are called the bellows. So this centrifuge has five bellows. So what are we doing? In order to test this centrifuge, our engineers do it at first with one sub-critical rotor. Then they install two rotors, one on top of the other, and so on. It takes 10 years to pass through all these phases and bring the IR-9 centrifuges to industrial production. Today we unveiled the sub-critical and one-bellow centrifuges. We already built the 5-bellow centrifuge and started it, but we must begin from the no-bellow phase and proceed in the natural technical stages.
"If the goal is to produce 1900,000 SWU using IR-6 centrifuges - we can do it in 2-3 years, but we don't want to. We want to proceed according to the natural growth, and this requires another discussion."