AFP: Iran is capable of mass-producing centrifuges to enrich uranium, an advisor to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday, reaffirming Tehran would not yield in the standoff with the West. TEHRAN, May 2, 2007 (AFP) – Iran is capable of mass-producing centrifuges to enrich uranium, an advisor to supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday, reaffirming Tehran would not yield in the standoff with the West.
“Today we can mass-produce centrifuges while in the past we had difficulties to even make a single centrifuge,” Ali Akbar Velayati, the top foreign policy advisor to Khamenei, told the state-run IRNA agency.
Iran last month already announced it had reached an “industrial stage” of uranium enrichment and also said then it was able to mass produce centrifuges at its key nuclear plant in the central city of Natanz.
Velayati, a hugely influential former foreign minister, also confirmed data from the UN atomic agency that Iran has at least 1,300 centrifuges at the plant, the first time an Iranian official has given such information.
“The Westerners have recognised that we have manufactured 1,300 centrifuges,” he said.
Western powers have threatened to impose a third set of UN sanctions against Iran if it fails to suspend uranium enrichment by late this month, but Velayati indicated Tehran would not give ground.
“If we yield on the nuclear issue, tomorrow they will target our advances in the ballistic missile area and say for example that we do not have the right to produce such a kind of missile,” Velayati continued.
Centrifuges spin at supersonic speeds to enrich uranium, a process that is hugely sensitive as it can be used both to make nuclear fuel and atomic weapons.
The United States accuses Iran of seeking nuclear weapons but Tehran insists that it only wants to produce energy for a growing population.