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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran to launch new-generation uranium centrifuges in 2011

RIA Novosti

17:06 18/12/2009 MOSCOW, December 18 (RIA Novosti) - Iran plans to start using a new generation of uranium-enrichment centrifuges by March 2011, the head of the country's Atomic Energy Organization said on Friday.

"We hope we will solve current production problems by the end of next [Iranian] year and launch a new generation of centrifuges," Ali Akbar Salehi said in an interview with the official Fars agency

He said the new generation centrifuges are called IR3 and IR4.

"We have over 6,000 active centrifuges," he said.

Iran is under three sets of United Nations sanctions for refusing to halt uranium enrichment, recently announced plans to build 10 new uranium enrichment facilities. Tehran insists it needs nuclear technology to generate electricity, while Western powers suspect it of pursuing an atomic weapons program.

During a UN Security Council meeting last Thursday, the United States, Britain and France warned Iran that they were likely to push for new sanctions early next year if it refused to halt its nuclear program.

The five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany are working together to peacefully resolve international concerns over Iran's nuclear program. During their last meeting on November 20 in Brussels, political directors or deputy foreign ministers from the six powers urged Iran to agree to a UN-backed uranium enrichment scheme.

Iran denies it wants to build a bomb, saying its nuclear program is only for civilian purposes, aimed at generating electricity.

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