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Iran develops new generation of centrifuges: AEOI chief

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Iran’s nuclear chief says the Islamic Republic has tested a new generation of centrifuges under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“We have declared our latest generation of centrifuges, i.e. IR-8, whose SWU (Separative Work Unit) is 24, to the Agency,” Ali Akbar Salehi, the director of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said on Wednesday.

Salehi was quoted by Fars News Agency as saying in a televised interview that necessary mechanical tests have been conducted on IR-8 centrifuges, but they have not been injected with gas as it requires the permission of President Hassan Rouhani.

“Development and manufacturing of new centrifuges is our right and based on the Geneva Accord [reached late last year between Iran and six world powers], there is almost no limit to [nuclear] research and development,” he said.

Salehi stated that the AEOI is required by a contract signed with Iran’s Health Ministry to build ten 40,000-RPM (revolutions per minute) centrifuges, adding that 80,000-RPM centrifuges are also planned for the future.

Elsewhere in his remarks, Salehi said Tehran has started redesigning the heart of a heavy-water reactor in the city of Arak in a bid to assure the West of the civilian nature of the facility.

Salehi said the redesigning process is under way by experts and staff at the facility, adding that Iran offered to “redesign the heart of the reactor in order to allay the concerns of some countries about Arak reactor.”

Salehi noted that Iranian Foreign Ministry has been informed of the “technical details of the redesigning [process] at the heart of Arak reactor.”

The Arak reactor is expected to gradually replace Tehran’s Research Reactor and will produce medical radioisotopes for cancer patients.

Arak heavy water reactor is among the issues discussed in negotiations between Iran and the six powers – the United States, France, Britain, Russia, China and Germany – aimed at reaching a final comprehensive deal on Tehran’s nuclear energy program.

Salehi also said Russia is expected to build a second nuclear power plant near the Bushehr plant in southern Iran.

He said one of his deputies is travelling to Russia in the coming days to finalize the deal as soon as possible.

In September 2013, Iran officially took over from Russia the first unit of its first 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant in Bushehr for two years. The initial construction of the Bushehr facility began in 1975 by German companies, but the work was halted following the 1979 Islamic Revolution.

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