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Tehran (AFP) March 3, 2013
Iran's atomic chief said on Sunday that Tehran planned to install 3,000 new generation centrifuges at one of its nuclear plants, confirming what the UN nuclear watchdog reported in February.
"The production line of these centrifuges has been completed," Fereydoon Abbasi Davani was quoted as saying by the ISNA news agency.
"In the near future these new generation centrifuges will become operational and they will replace the older generation of centrifuges that are less efficient," Abbasi Davani, who heads the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency, said.
He added that 3,000 of them were being produced.
Last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that "on 6 February 2013, the Agency observed that Iran had started the installation of IR-2m centrifuges" at Natanz in central Iran where around 12,500 of the older models are installed.
The IAEA report on the new generation machines drew condemnation from the world powers which suspect Tehran seeks to acquire a nuclear weapon.
Installing new generation centrifuges would help the Islamic republic's atomic scientists enrich uranium at a higher speed.
This process is at the heart of the international community's concerns about Tehran's nuclear programme, since uranium enriched to high levels can also be used in manufacturing the bomb.
Iran has been slapped with several UN, US and European sanctions over its enrichment programme. Tehran maintains it is enriching uranium only for peaceful purposes.
It currently enriches uranium to five percent purity to be used as nuclear power plant fuel and up to 20 percent for fuelling a research reactor which produces radio isotopes.
But major world powers fear that Iran may push enrichment up to 90 percent, a level necessary to make a nuclear weapon, despite repeated denials by Tehran.
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