Iran’s atomic chief: We’re installing 1,000 more centrifuges

The head of Iran’s atomic agency says the Islamic Republic is in the process of installing 1,000 new centrifuges.

“One thousand centrifuges are being installed inside the country,” says Ali Akbar Salehi, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.

“We are currently installing one thousand IR-2m centrifuges, but two cascades are installed and working,” adds Salehi.

The comments are made a day after Iran says it has begun enriching uranium to 20%, a short step away from weapons-grade levels.

He also says Iran has increased its supply of yellowcake, a precursor to enriched uranium, by eight times in the past two years.

File: The head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi delivers his speech at opening of the general conference of the IAEA in Vienna, Austria, September 16, 2019. (AP Photo/Ronald Zak)

“Until three or four years ago, we used to produce an average of 4 to 5 tons of yellowcake, but for the past two years, we have increased the production of yellowcake to 30 tons.”

“This year, the production of yellowcake will be between 35 and 40 tons, which means that we have 8-folded the production of yellowcake,” he says.

Yellowcake is a uranium concentrate in powder form and an early step in uranium processing. It is produced by mining uranium ore from rocks and separating the uranium from the rocks by bathing them in acid. The yellowcake can then be converted, enriched to raise its purity, and then used for weapons or energy production.