Ahmadinejad Tours Natanz, Announces Enrichment Progress

April 8, 2008

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  • Policy Briefs

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Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad marked Iran's national nuclear day, April 8, 2008, with an announcement that the country had started installing 6,000 additional centrifuges at the Natanz uranium enrichment complex. During a tour of the site, Ahmadinejad viewed P-1 centrifuges, of which some 3,000 machines are currently operating. View photographs of Ahmadinejad's visit and P-1 machines here.

Ahmadinejad also inspected a "new machine," known as the IR-2 (for Iranian second generation), which is smaller than the P-1 and, according to Ahmadinejad, capable of enriching uranium "more than five times" as efficiently as the P-1. The IR-2 has a carbon fiber rotor and, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency, is one of four centrifuges Iran has been developing at an Atomic Energy Organization of Iran laboratory in Tehran, called Kalaye Electric. Iran processed small quantities of uranium gas in an IR-2 test machine set up at the Natanz pilot enrichment plant in late January. Photographs of Ahmadinejad inspecting components for the IR-2 during his April 8 visit to Natanz were published on the president's web site. A selection can be viewed here.

Read reactions and analysis from around the world:

The United States condemns Iran's expansion of uranium enrichment work, in defiance of U.N. Security Council Resolutions: State Department spokesperson and U.S. permanent representative to the IAEA, 4-8-08.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner expresses concern about developments in Iran and warns that they could lead to further sanctions, 4-8-08.

UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson: "Iran has not only failed to suspend enrichment, but has chosen to ignore the will of the international community by announcing the installation of new centrifuges. This is despite the fact that Iran's enrichment programme has no apparent civilian purpose, and shows that Iran is making no effort to restore international confidence in its intentions." Sky News, 8-8-08.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier says Iran's progress makes the nuclear dispute even more difficult to resolve, 4-9-08.

Arms Control Wonk works to identify IR-2 centrifuge components on display during Ahmadinejad's visit, 4-14-08.

The New York Times reports on photographs of Ahmadinejad's visit to Natanz, 4-29-08.