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Middle east

Iran 'needs' 20 more uranium enrichment plants

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-12-05

Iran needs 20 uranium enrichment plants to produce enough fuel for its nuclear power plants and has no plans to withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty, the official IRNA news agency has reported.

Iran's atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi has said the country needs 20 uranium enrichment plants in order to meet all its electricity needs, state-owned English-language Press TV reported.

Salehi told Press TV late Friday that the plants have to be equal in size to Iran's existing flagship uranium enrichment plant in the central city of Natanz.

"We are in need of 20 thousand megawatts that means 20 times the amount (of fuel) the Natanz" facility can produce, Salehi said in an interview, adding that the Natanz site has a capacity of about 30 tonnes of enriched uranium per year.

"Now the government has decided to have 10 sites with the same size as Natanz... every site will be producing 30 tonnes per year which is enough for one nuclear power plant," he said.

Natanz is estimated to have more than 8,000 centrifuges, machines that rotate at supersonic speed to refine uranium. More than half of them, or nearly 5,000 centrifuges, are currently actively enriching uranium under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

On Sunday, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced Tehran's plan to build 10 more enrichment facilities, apart from Natanz and the controversial Fordo unit which is being constructed inside a mountain near the Shiite holy city of Qom.

Iran's decision to build 10 plants came after it was rebuked by the IAEA over the Fordo plant.

World powers are outraged at Tehran for building the Fordo plant and some have even warned it could face a new set of sanctions.

But Salehi said new sanctions "will not really disturb us to the extent that they think would make us relent to their wishes."

Press TV said Salehi also advised the West against any confrontation with Iran, which he said could have "unknown consequences."

"I think it's about time to get wise people around the table and try to find a way out that would save the faces of all who are involved in this fabricated Iranian nuclear crisis.

"I call it fabricated because it is really fabricated," the nuclear chief said.

Tehran has maintained it will continue cooperating with the IAEA but has also warned that attempts to denying Iran its nuclear rights could reduce the country's cooperation to "a legally mandated minimum," which means it would not venture beyond its legal obligations, the channel reported.

World powers suspect Iran is enriching uranium to make nuclear weapons, a charge denied by Tehran which claims its atomic programme is purely aimed at generating electricity for its growing population.

Date created : 2009-12-05

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