IR-9 Centrifuges to Increase Enrichment Capacity
EghtesadOnline: The new centrifuges that Iran plans to use will significantly increase its enrichment capacity, an informed official said, adding that the new centrifuges will be unveiled in the coming weeks.
The advanced IR-9 centrifuges have a capacity of 40-50 SWU, which is "practically twice the capacity of IR-8 centrifuges", the official from the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, told the local newspaper Khorasan on condition of anonymity.
An SWU is a unit of measurement of the effort needed to enrich natural uranium so nuclear power plants can use it as fuel.
President Hassan Rouhani recently announced that Iran will begin work on centrifuges IR-7 and IR-9 to speed up uranium enrichment, Financial Tribune reported.
Iran is scaling back its commitments under its 2015 nuclear deal with major powers step by step in response to tough sanctions imposed by the United States, which pulled out of the agreement last year. Tehran has said its next move will be taken in early November.
The nuclear deal only lets Iran accumulate enriched uranium with just over 5,000 of its first-generation IR-1 centrifuges at its Natanz facility. It lets Iran use small numbers of more advanced models for research, without producing enriched uranium.
Tehran has already hit back with three countermeasures, exceeding the deal's limits on nuclear enrichment purity and stockpiles of enriched uranium as well as research and development, including on the advancement of centrifuges used to enrich uranium.
The official said the capacity of IR-9 centrifuges is "50 times more than the IR-1 centrifuges currently being used at Natanz".
The newspaper report also quoted the informed source as saying that developing new centrifuges is not a "difficult or complicated" task for Iranian experts.
The official noted that the IR-7 centrifuges have a capacity of 18-20 SWU.
"These centrifuges [IR-7 and IR-9] will be unveiled in the next four weeks. However, it will take several years to mass produce them," the official added.
The AEOI official clarified that Iranians scientists are not using reverse engineering to manufacture centrifuges, as they have the capability to carry out the basic and conceptual design and build a centrifuge prototype.
Britain, France and Germany, all parties to the pact, have urged Iran to refrain from taking further steps for reducing its commitments.
France urged Iran on Wednesday not to scale back further on its nuclear commitments, saying Tehran's new announcement about speeding up uranium enrichment next month was "especially worrying".
"Iran must abstain from crossing an especially worrying new phase of new measures that could contribute to an escalation of tensions," French Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Agnes von der Muhll told reporters in a daily briefing, Reuters reported.
Iran says its measures are "reversible" if the European signatories to the accord fulfill their obligations and manage to restore its access to foreign trade promised under the nuclear deal but blocked by the reimposition of US sanctions.