According to outgoing Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, 5,000 new centrifuges are ready to start operating at the country's nuclear facilities. These are in addition to the 12,000 centrifuges already in operation, he told Iran’s IRIBI Television.
The Iranian statement follows concerns expressed by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukiya Amano over Iran's controversial nuclear program.
The IAEA said in June that Tehran was violating international regulations by increasing the number of centrifuges.
While the West fears Iran is making steady progress towards nuclear weapons, Tehran insists its uranium enrichment is only for peaceful purposes.
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The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said Iran could achieve this by installing thousands of centrifuges at its Natanz and Fordow nuclear facilities.
"Iran could have time to make enough weapon-grade uranium for one or more nuclear weapons," ISIS said in a July report.
The ISIS said the IAEA should inspect the facilities more frequently, stating: "IAEA inaction or caution could make an international response all but impossible before Iran has produced enough weapon-grade uranium for one or more nuclear weapons."
The ISIS report adds that "by themselves these measures are not sufficient if Iran reaches critical capability."
Citing images of Iranian nuclear sites obtained from commercial satellites, the group has said Tehran was trying to hide the links between its Lashkar Ab'ad nuclear facility and firms involved in laser technology.
At the Lashkar Ab'ad site, experiments that involved enriching uranium through laser isotope separation have been conducted in the past. However, IAEA officials, who probed the facility, say lasers are used for civilian purposes.
Ahmadinejad has stated that Iran has developed the technology to enrich uranium to higher purity levels through lasers.
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