Iran kicks new life into nuclear programme; to inject uranium gas into 1,044 centrifuges at Fordow

Iranian nuclear scientists are developing a centrifuge prototype that is 50 times faster than the ones allowed under the 2015 nuclear deal with the US.

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Iran nuclear programme
ran Nuclear Deal Talks: US Secretary of State John Kerry (L), US Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz (2L), Robert Malley (3L), of the US National Security Council, European Union High Representative Federica Mogherini (C), Head of Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation Ali Akbar Salehi (2R) Reuters

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday uranium gas will be injected into 1,044 centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility as early as on Wednesday. While announcing a major measure flouting stipulations under the 2015 nuclear deal with the United States and other western powers, Rouhani also let a window remain open, saying that Tehran will reconsider the decision if the other parties in the now defunct deal 'keep their commitments.'

On Monday, Iran's nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi said 30 advanced IR-6 centrifuges were to be launched, in a move to accelerate the uranium enrichment process in violation of the terms of the nuclear deal. "We can't unilaterally accept that we completely fulfil our commitments and they don't follow up on their commitments," Rouhani said in a televised speech, Euronews reported. "But at the same time, when they uphold their commitments, we will cut off the gas again...So it is possible to reverse this step," the Iranian president added. "We know their sensitivity with regard to Fordow ... With regards to these centrifuges, we know."

The Iran nuclear deal negotiated under President Barack Obama was scrapped by President Donald Trump last year. The US also imposed fresh sanctions against Iran. Iranian nuclear scientists are developing a centrifuge prototype that is 50 times faster than the ones allowed under the deal with the US, Salehi added on Monday. Rouhani also echoed the swagger, saying that Iran must thank its enemies for giving it the opportunity to further improve its nuclei technology.

International observers feel that the aggressive stance of Iran is a matter of concern but that it can also be a strategy to coerce France, Germany and the UK to put pressure on the US. Washington this week said it was slapping sanctions on nine people linked to Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. "This action seeks to block funds from flowing to a shadow network of Ali Khamenei's military and foreign affairs advisors who have for decades oppressed the Iranian people, exported terrorism, and advanced destabilising policies around the world," the US treasury department said.

A plan to reduce centrifuges

Under the 2015 nuclear deal Iran had agreed to reduce its centrifuges by approximately two-thirds, from about 19,000 to 6,104, with only 5,060 of these enriching uranium for 10 years. All 6,104 centrifuges will be IR-1s, Iran's first-generation centrifuge.

The centrifuge is an apparatus that rotates at high speed and by centrifugal force separates substances of different densities. Uranium Centrifuge is used to enrich uranium, a natural ore, into nuclear fuel that is also used for making a nuclear bomb. By reducing the number of centrifuges, the deal ensures that Iran will have a small nuclear programme.