The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says that Iran began enriching uranium at its Natanz nuclear facility with a cascade of advanced IR-4 centrifuges.
IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi told the Agency’s members on Monday that Iran had “begun feeding a newly installed cascade of 174 IR-4 centrifuges” to enrich uranium hexafluoride gas up to 5 percent purity,” the Vienna-based organization said on Wednesday, confirming an earlier report by Reuters.
“On 15 March 2021, the Agency verified that Iran began feeding the cascade of 174 IR-4 centrifuges already installed at FEP (Fuel Enrichment Plant) [near Natanz] with natural UF6,” Grossi said in his report to member states, referring to uranium hexafluoride, the form in which uranium is fed into centrifuges for enrichment.
Iran has also indicated that it now plans to install a second cascade of IR-4 centrifuges at the FEP but the installation of that cascade has yet to begin, the report said.
Iran has already increased the number of IR-2m machines, which are far more efficient than the IR-1, installed at the Natanz plant.
“In summary, as of 15 March 2021, Iran was using 5,060 IR-1 centrifuges installed in 30 cascades, 522 IR-2m centrifuges installed in three cascades, and 174 IR-4 centrifuges installed in one cascade, to enrich natural UF6 up to 5% U-235 at FEP,” the IAEA report said, referring to the fissile purity of uranium.
The IAEA had reported on March 8 that Iran has started enriching uranium with a third cascade, or cluster, of advanced IR-2m centrifuges at its Natanz nuclear facility.