Iran sets up new rotor factory for centrifuges: Nuclear chief

Iran has built a factory that can produce rotors for up to 60 centrifuges a day,  Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said on Wednesday, upping the stakes in a confrontation with Washington over the Islamic Republic’s nuclear work.

The announcement came a month after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said he had ordered agencies to prepare to increase uranium enrichment capacity if a nuclear deal with world powers falls apart after Washington’s withdrawal from the pact.

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The comments came as Tehran is in talks with major powers on preserving a 2015 deal meant to keep the country from developing nuclear weapons in the wake of President Donald Trump’s decision to pull the United States out of the accord.

Salehi said on state television that Iran has imported some 400 tons of so-called yellowcake uranium since the 2015 landmark nuclear deal, bringing its stockpile to between 900 and 950 tons — up from 500 tons.

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Since the 2015 deal, Iran has purchased yellowcake from Kazakhstan and Russia, as well as mined its own domestically. The accord allows for that, but limits Iran’s enrichment of uranium to 3.67 percent, enough to use in a nuclear power plant but far lower than the 90 percent needed for an atomic weapon.

In addition to announcing the continued purchases from Russia and elsewhere, Salehi said Iran is also working on exploration to find additional resources inside the country to meet more uranium needs domestically.

Salehi said Iran has also almost completed a factory aimed at building new generation of centrifuge machines showed in June for the first time.