Ali-Akbar Salehi head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) detailed recent developments in the country’s nuclear field in a press conference, aired on IRINN TV (Iran) on January 5, 2021. He said that the nuclear project in Iran is the largest industrial project in Iran and it is the most costly. Salehi said that the yellow cake production has been multiplied by eight, he added that production of the 20% enriched uranium started with 24 hours, and that Iran is now capable of producing 120 tons of uranium enriched by 20% per year, as required by the law passed in the Majles. He said: "None of the AEOI activities have been slowed down or stopped." He added that Iran is in the process of installing over 320 IR2M centrifuges, and in a year's time, Iran will be able to produce 1,000 IR6 centrifuges. He added that Iran's president Rouhani gave instructions to finance this very costly project.
Ali-Akbar Salehi: "The Atomic Energy Organization has some 20,000 personnel. It is involved in a wide range of activities, beginning with the building of two atomic power plants in Bushehr... This is the largest industrial project in the country. The cost of these two nuclear plants is about $10 billion. At this time, we do not have any other project in our country that costs that much. We are engaged in extensive discovery and extraction activity. Up to 3-4 years ago, we used to produce 4-5 tons of yellow cake. In the past two years, we have been producing 30 tons, and this year, we will produce 35-40 tons, inshallah. We increased the production eight times over.
"Technically speaking, we managed to start 20% [enrichment] within 24 hours. We can produce 17-20 grams [of 20% enriched uranium] per hour. This is already being produced and has been stabilized. In other words, we can produce 8-9 kg [of 20% enriched uranium] every month, so we can reach the 120 kg, as we are required by law.
"How come we did not have 20% [enrichment] before this law? The 20% [enriched uranium] is being used in the [Tehran research] reactor. We now have fuel stored for this reactor for the next five years. You hear what I am saying? The 20% [enriched uranium] that we are producing now will be put in storage and will serve as reserves. None of the AEOI activities have been slowed down or stopped. We are now installing 1,000 IR2M centrifuges. Two cascades have been installed and they are working. This means that over 320 IR2M centrifuges have been installed. This process is continuing and, inshallah, in the coming 2-3 months, and in keeping with the law that requires this from us, we will finish installing them — and maybe even earlier. We have now started to build IR6 centrifuges, so that in a year's time, we will be able to produce 1,000 IR6 centrifuges. We are currently busy obtaining the raw materials, with the assistance provided by President [Rouhani], who gave the instructions to finance this. The cost of 1,000 IR6 machines is very high."