Following are excerpts from an interview with Mohammad Ghannadi Maragheh, research and technology director, the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, which aired on Channel 2, Iranian TV on April 8, 2008:
Mohammad Ghannadi Maragheh: The site at Natanz was planned in order to supply enriched UF6 to the Bushehr power plant. The UCF plant at Esfahan, the [uranium] enrichment plant at Natanz, and the fuel production after the production of UF6 – all these were intended to serve the Bushehr nuclear power plant. At least 54,000 centrifuges will need to operate. When the new generation [of centrifuges] begins to operate, it's more likely that we will be able to use fewer than 54,000 centrifuges. These will be more efficient, because they are faster, and will yield a greater output [of enriched uranium] in less time.
With regard to yellowcake, we have now reached the phase of industrial production at Bandar Abbas, and we use it to a certain extent. We extract the ore in the Saghand region, but Allah willing, yellowcake will soon be produced there as well.
With regard to UCF, as acknowledged by international agencies, such as the IAEA, the World Nuclear Association, and others, our country is in seventh place in terms of UF6 production, which is a very prominent place. In a very short time, using our country's modest resources, and with locally-trained experts alone... Dr. [Boroujerdi] saw for himself how young the people working there were, and Dr. Aghamir trained some of them.
Interviewer: Can we declare that we are among the ten countries with a nuclear industry?
Mohammad Ghannadi Maragheh: Definitely. In terms of UCF, as I already told you, we are in seventh place, and in terms of uranium enrichment, we are below the [leading] ten countries. With regard to uranium enrichment, Germany, Holland, and England have a large consortium called Urenco. These three countries together have a consortium, and their industries are interconnected. But Iran, despite all the sanctions imposed on it, has managed to reach this scientific level. In general, in terms of nuclear technology – both the nuclear fuel cycle and radio-isotope production – we are in a very prominent position, especially in our region. This is very clear and has been declared.
Interviewer: Are the new centrifuges different from the old ones? Are they the same centrifuges, but in greater numbers, or are their RPMs greater? Please explain about the centrifuges.
Mohammad Ghannadi Maragheh: Centrifuges use a fascinating technology. The [centrifuge] has an external and internal pipe, and the internal pipe is the one that does the work. It rotates at a speed of 64,000 RPM, or 1,100 revolutions per second. This is very fast – faster than the speed of sound. Because of its very high speed, in order to avoid friction with air molecules, the centrifuge must be in a vacuum when it is rotating. Air must not be allowed to get into the centrifuge, because if it did, [the centrifuge] would explode. When it rotates, the 235 and 238 isotopes are separated from one another.
Interviewer: What will bring us more quickly to our goals? More centrifuges or faster ones?
Mohammad Ghannadi Maragheh: No, they all have a speed of 64,000 RPM, and there is no difference between them, but the greater output enables us to reach a greater amount of enriched uranium in a shorter time.