July 10, 2007 / 2:15 PM / 11 years ago

Iran producing its own nuclear centrifuges: report

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran is producing centrifuges for refining uranium domestically, a senior adviser to the country’s supreme leader said on Tuesday, limiting the impact of United Nations sanctions on its contested nuclear program.

Iran has surprised monitors familiar with its nuclear research program by launching around 2,000 centrifuges since February, the majority enriching uranium in linked networks.

Centrifuges are used to make fuel for power plants, which is what Iran insists is its goal. But they can also be used to enrich uranium to a far higher level to make bomb material.

The deputy director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Olli Heinonen, goes to Tehran on Wednesday to test Tehran’s promise of an “action plan” to answer long-standing questions about its nuclear ambitions.

“All parts of centrifuges are built inside Iran. Each part is built in various parts of the country. Then they are assembled at one place,” said Ali Akbar Velayati, international affairs adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s top authority.

The remarks were carried by Jomhuri-ye Eslami newspaper.

Khamenei has the last say in all state matters, including the nuclear file.

Iran is embroiled in a row with the West over its nuclear ambitions and has been hit with two sets of U.N. sanctions. A third set is in the offing because Iran has defied repeated U.N. demands to halt uranium enrichment-related activities.

There had been suggestions that Iran was importing parts used in its centrifuges.

Velayati, echoing other top Iranian officials, brushed off the impact of sanctions and said even military action would not stop work to install more centrifuges in the Natanz uranium enrichment plant in central Iran.

“Iran’s nuclear technology is native and it cannot be eliminated ... Any possible military attack cannot destroy it,” Velayati said.

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