Iran In Brief

Iran’s Advanced Centrifuges

October 18, 2011

Last summer, Iran began installing two cascades of advanced centrifuges at the Pilot Fuel Enrichment Plant (PFEP) at Natanz. As of August 28, 2011, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran had installed 136 IR-2m centrifuges in cascade 5 and 27 IR-4 centrifuges in cascade 4. Iran started feeding 54 of the 136 IR-2m centrifuges with natural uranium hexafluoride. 1 Each of these cascades is designed to contain 164 centrifuges. Iran first told the IAEA in January 2011 that it intended to install these two cascades, and it is unclear why Iran waited nearly eight months before starting to install them.

Installation of the IR-2m centrifuges is now complete. Installation of the IR-4 centrifuges could finish anytime.

The purpose of operating these cascades at the PFEP is to demonstrate their performance prior to installation of production cascades at the Natanz plant, the Fordow facility, or possibly a third enrichment site that may currently be under construction. Iran should be able to finish this demonstration work at the pilot plant within six to nine months, and perhaps sooner.

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