‘Iran’s capacity for uranium enrichment has reached 16,500 SWUs’

Salehi says Iran has produced 57 kilograms of 20% enriched uranium

April 7, 2021 - 21:8

TEHRAN - The capacity of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) for uranium enrichment has reached 16,500 SWUs, AEOI chief Ali Akbar Salehi announced on Wednesday.

SWU stands for separative work unit.

Salehi, a nuclear physicist, also said Iran’s reserves of nuclear fuel enriched to 20 percent has reached 57 kilograms.

“Today the capacity of Iran’s enrichment has reached 16,500 SWUs and we have 57 kilograms of 20-percent uranium,” Salehi told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

 “Nuclear industry will not stop with JCPOA”   

The AEOI head went on to say that he was sure that the nuclear industry would not be stopped or slowed down by the JCPOA, the common name for the 2015 nuclear deal.

"Compare for yourself what we had in 1392 in different fields and what we have now."

For example, he said, Robert Malley, the U.S. special envoy for Iran, recently said, "Go and see how far Iran's nuclear industry has come with Trump's actions."

Salehi a nuclear physicist said, "We have 15 new types of centrifuges that are enriching uranium, such as IR6, IR4, IR2M."

“In 1392 (2013), we only enriched with IR1, which is a huge leap. Before the JCPOA our maximum enrichment was 13,000 SWUs, but now we have 16,500 SWUs without mobilizing all our resources. So has this industry slowed down and stopped?” he asked.

Salehi added, "We have about 5 tons of enriched uranium and about 57 kilograms of 20% uranium, while we are supposed to have 120 kilograms in a year, but now we have reached 57 kilograms."

In late last year the Iranian parliament approved a legislation obliging the government to increase the level of enrichment to 20 and produce 120 kg of nuclear fuel to the purity of 20 percent in response to the imposition of sanctions on Iran. The parliament stated the approval is intended to protect the rights of the Iranian nation.

The top nuclear official also said Iran’s capacity for producing yellowcake has reached from 5 tons to 35 tons before the JCPOA was signed.

"Our production of yellowcake before the JCPOA was 4 to 5 tons, but now it has reached an average of 35 tons."

He added, "We are building two power plants with the cooperation of the Russians."

Iran celebrates Farvardin 20, which mostly falls on April 9, as National Nuclear Technology Day.

"We are on the eve of the anniversary of the 20th of Farvardin and the honors of the Atomic Energy Organization… We could not hold the 20th of Farvardin last year because of the coronavirus, but this year we will hold it on Saturday.”

Salehi said, "In this ceremony, which will be attended by the president, an exhibition with 133 achievements will be held and we will have about 7 unveilings, the most important of which are some new radiopharmaceuticals. We do not realize the importance of these radiopharmaceuticals until we get sick.”

He added, "About one million people suffer from incurable diseases and the Atomic Energy Organization provides the drugs needed by these patients and the number of these new drugs is increasing every year."

The nuclear chief also said it was recently announced that a prostate cancer drug is being studied and developed in collaboration with several universities.

He said the National Ion Therapy Center in Alborz province will be opened in September.

This center is a hospital that treats incurable diseases, Salehi explained.

Salehi went on to say there is another project called the “production project of radiopharmaceuticals based on GMP or ‘TETRA project’ which has 60 million euros of equipment” and the AEOI did not receive any fund from the government to for the project.

The project was funded by loans provided by banks, he said, adding preparations are being made to inaugurate the project in September.

In response to a question about the nuclear talks held in Vienna on Tuesday for a possible revitalization of the JCPOA, Salehi said, "The technical experts of the Atomic Energy Organization are in the talks."

He said as Iranian officials have said the first round of nuclear talks in Vienna was constructive.

Salehi was involved in the nuclear talks for technical matters as Iran and the 5+1 nations were getting close to finalizing the text of the JCPOA in July 2015. He also was Iran’s ambassador to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency.

“Clear and principled position”

Salehi, who is also considered vice president, also said Iran’s position on a revival of the JCPOA is “clear and principled”.

If the United States returns to JCPOA and lifts sanctions, Iran will also reverse its remedial measures, Salehi said.

He said Iran is not asking excessive demands from the United States, noting, “America has left (the nuclear deal) and wants to return and it has obligations that must do them first.”

He reiterated the position by other Iranian officials, saying, "We do not have a step-by-step discussion in this regard and I have not heard anything in this regard at all.”

Iran has been insisting that if sanctions are lifted it will immediately undo its nuclear steps that are outside the JCPOA constraints.

Salehi stated that the way for a mutual understanding of JCPOA is clear. "New sanctions have been added under Trump. In these negotiations, the list of sanctions should be reviewed, and on the other hand, they want to review our actions."

 “We can stop some actions momentarily; for example, we can stop the production of 20% uranium immediately, but it will take time to remove new centrifuges.”

Salehi, who was also foreign minister during the Ahmadinejad administration, said that the United States has suffered many political defeats over the last one or two years because of the JCPOA.

"If it were not for the JCPOA, these American defeats would certainly not have occurred. Maintaining the JCPOA has put us in the right position. It is a political achievement that the Americans have backed down from the position that Iran must act first.”

Salehi said: "We have seen good signs so far and Iran has also announced that it will abide by its obligations as long as they fulfill their obligations."

"We have installed 1,000 IR2M centrifuges in the last one or two months," he said.

“These 16,500 SWUs has been installed mainly in the last few months according to the law of the parliament. These achievements are part of the steps to reduce commitments, and if the JCPOA is to be implemented, we will stop them.”