Iran: Advanced Centrifuges to Be Set Up Soon at Qom Nuclear Site

Iran shifting its higher grade uranium enrichment work from Natanz site to Fordo near Qom and aims to triple the production capacity of nuclear fuel.

Iran's nuclear energy chief and Vice President Fereidoun Abbasi was quoted Wednesday by the official Iranian IRNA news agency as saying Tehran plans to soon set up the more advanced type of centrifuges, suitable for higher-level uranium enrichment, at the Fordo site near the holy city of Qom in central Iran.

Fordo was long kept secret and was only revealed in 2009. It was built next to a military complex to protect it in case of an attack.


Meanwhile, state broadcaster IRIB reported that Iran was also shifting its higher grade uranium enrichment work from a site it has used for years to Fordo and aims to triple the production capacity of the nuclear fuel.

"This year, under the supervision of the [International Atomic Energy] Agency, we will transfer 20 percent enrichment from the Natanz site to the Fordo site and we will increase the production capacity by three times," the head of Iran's atomic energy agency, Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, told reporters after a cabinet meeting, IRIB reported.

The statement is another act of defiance by Iran, slammed with international sanctions over its controversial nuclear program.

When Iran first announced it activated the 164-machine centrifuge cascades for higher enrichment last year, IAEA said the move was contrary to UN resolutions demanding Iran suspend all enrichment.

Abbasi's announcement came a day after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad criticized the IAEA chief Yukiya Amano, claiming the director has discredited the world body by alleging that Iran may be working on a nuclear weapons program.

Ahmadinejad was reacting to Amano's earlier comments alleging that some aspects of Iran's nuclear activities could be linked to a weapons program, according to latest information obtained by the UN watchdog.