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October 7, 2009

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Iran wants centrifuge for nuclear plant

IRAN plans to install a more advanced type of centrifuge at its newly revealed uranium enrichment site, an Iranian newspaper reported yesterday, a development certain to add to international concerns about the country's nuclear work.

Iranian scientists have carried out research and development in recent months for the new generation of more efficient centrifuges, and most of the machines' components are made domestically, said Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran's nuclear agency, according to the Kayhan daily newspaper.

Iran's enrichment of uranium is the central concern of the United States and other nations negotiating with the country over its nuclear program. The technology can be used to make fuel for power plants and nuclear weapons.

Iran insists its enrichment work is only meant for use in generating power, but Washington and its allies are suspicions of Tehran's intentions and fear its mastery of the technology will give them a pathway to weapons development.

"Over the past months, we have focused on research and development to drive the new machines," the newspaper quoted Salehi as saying.

The new enrichment site near the holy city of Qom -- Iran's second such facility -- was made public last month by US President Barack Obama and the leaders of France and Britain several days after Iran notified the United Nations' nuclear monitoring agency about the site. It is still under construction, and Iran says it will be operational in 18 months. Obama said Iran's failure to notify the International Atomic Energy Agency at the start of construction "raised grave doubts" about its promise to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes only.

The new centrifuges would be more advanced than the decades old P-1 type centrifuges once acquired on the black market and in use at Iran's other enrichment facility in Natanz.


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