Iran set to significantly 'speed up' uranium enrichment, says official
Iran is set to speed up its uranium enrichment program by sharply increasing the number of centrifuges used to make nuclear fuel, a senior official in the country has said.
Iran's nuclear chief, Fereidoun Abbasi, said that Iran is making nuclear advances in the face of the severe economic measures imposed by the UN and the West.
"Despite sanctions, we will most likely see a substantial increase in the number of centrifuge machines this year. We will continue enrichment with intensity," Abbasi was quoted by state TV as saying.
According to News.com.au, Abbasi did not say if Iran's stepped up work would be at the five per cent fuel level or the higher 20 per cent quality, which has worried the West because it can be purified to weapons grade more quickly.
There have been indications that Iran may push its enrichment even higher than the 20 per cent acknowledged to UN nuclear watchdogs, the paper said.
The West suspects Iran's nuclear program could be headed toward weapons production and has imposed punishing sanctions to try to persuade Tehran to stop enrichment.
Iran, however, argues that its program is peaceful and geared toward generating electricity and producing radioisotopes to treat cancer patients.