Iran builds new factory for centrifuge rotors

DUBAI • Iran has built a factory that can produce rotors for up to 60 centrifuges a day, the head of its atomic agency said yesterday, upping the stakes in a confrontation with Washington over the Islamic Republic's nuclear work.

The announcement came a month after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he had ordered agencies to prepare to increase uranium enrichment capacity if a nuclear deal with world powers falls apart after the US' withdrawal from the pact.

Under the terms of the 2015 agreement, which was also signed by Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany, Iran agreed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief.

The other signatories have been scrambling to save the accord, arguing it offers the best way to stop Iran developing a nuclear bomb.

Mr Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, said the new factory did not in itself break the terms of the agreement. "Instead of building this factory in the next seven or eight years, we built it during the negotiations but did not start it," state media quoted him as saying.

"Of course, the (Supreme Leader) was completely informed and we gave him the necessary information at the time. And now that he has given the order, this factory has started all of its work."

The factory would have the capacity to build rotors for up to 60 IR-6 centrifuges per day, he added.

Last month, Mr Salehi announced that Iran has begun working on infrastructure for building advanced centrifuges at its Natanz facility.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 19, 2018, with the headline 'Iran builds new factory for centrifuge rotors'. Print Edition | Subscribe