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Iran prepares to build advanced centrifuges
Last Updated: 2018-06-06 07:35 | Xinhua
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Iran's atomic chief said here Tuesday that the Islamic republic is preparing the infrastructure for building advanced centrifuges, Press TV reported.

The work has begun at Iran's Natanz enrichment facility, observing the country's commitments to 2015 nuclear deal, Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) said.

"Yesterday, we took the first step and submitted a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on the start of certain activities. We started to take necessary practical measures today," Salehi was quoted as saying.

"If conditions are ripe, I may explain tomorrow night at Natanz one of the projects we have in mind, which is a center for the production of new centrifuges," he said.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Monday ordered the AEOI to prepare for the enrichment of uranium up to a level of 190,000 SWU (separative work units).

Khamenei issued the order in a televised speech at the ceremony held at the Imam Khomeini Mausoleum in southern Tehran to commemorate the 29th anniversary of the passing away of Imam Khomeini, founder of the Islamic republic.

SWU is the standard measure of the effort required to separate isotopes of uranium during an enrichment process. 1SWU is equivalent to 1 kilogram of separative work.

Developing such infrastructure would move along quickly, Salehi said Tuesday, adding that "If we were progressing normally, it would have taken six or seven years, but this will now be ready within weeks and months."

None of the measures Tehran is taking will violate the terms of the 2015 Iranian nuclear deal, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), he said. "Iran's nuclear activities will be peaceful," Salehi was quoted as saying by official IRNA news agency.

AEOI is pursuing two major goals supplying nuclear electricity and fuel for nuclear power plants, he added.

Iran is negotiating with the European countries on preserving the JCPOA, after the U.S. withdrawal in May.

On Monday, Khamenei said that it seems "some European governments expect the Iranian nation to both put up with sanctions and give up its nuclear activities."

The Iranian leader said Iran would not tolerate sanctions nor undergo "nuclear austerity."

He ordered the AEOI to immediately prepare the ground for the uranium enrichment "up to a level of 190,000 SWU for the time being within the framework of the nuclear deal."

Based on the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran can enrich uranium up to the level of 3.5 percent, which represents low-enriched uranium.

The spokesperson for the AEOI Behrouz Kamalvandi said the organization is starting a process to boost the country's capacity to enrich uranium following an order by Khamenei, according to Tasnim news agency on Tuesday.

Iran will inform the IAEA of the start of the process to increase the capacity to produce uranium hexafluoride (UF6), a chemical compound which serves as feedstock for centrifuges, he was quoted as saying.

Kamalvandi said that under the 2015 nuclear deal, Iran was supposed to achieve an enrichment capacity of at least 190,000 SWU by the end of the 15th year since the nuclear deal took effect in January 2016.

Achieving the 190,000-SWU enrichment capacity means increasing efforts to set up workshops and factories and providing the infrastructure and other arrangements necessary for moving forward at a high speed and capacity, the spokesperson added.

Tehran has threatened that, in case other parties to the nuclear deal could not safeguard Iran's interests under the accord, Iran will move out of it and resume its nuclear activities at full speed.

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