Tehran, Aug 18 (IANS) Iran has about 18,000 centrifuges, of which 10,000 are operating, the outgoing head of the country's atomic energy panel said Sunday.
Iran has 17,000 first-generation (IR-1) centrifuges out of which 10,000 are running, said Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) chief Fereidoon Abbasi, reported Xinhua citing the Press TV.
Over 1,000 indigenously-manufactured new-generation centrifuges (IR-2m) have also been installed and are ready to be launched, added Abbasi, who was replaced by former Iranian foreign minister, Ali-Akbar Salehi, after new President Hassan Rouhani took office earlier this month.
"Nearly 9,000 centrifuges in Natanz site enrich uranium below five-percent grade. More than 700 centrifuges in Natanz and Fordow enrich uranium to 20-percent level simultaneously," he said.
The Islamic republic has said that it enriches uranium to five percent for fuel purposes and 20 percent for producing radio medicines.
In May, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran has installed 16,590 first generation centrifuges.
"As of 15 May 2013, four cascades had been fully installed and one cascade had been partially installed with IR-2m centrifuges and empty centrifuge casings," the report noted.
The report also said Tehran has possessed 182 kg 20-percent enriched uranium stockpile, 15 kg up from the agency's previous report, still not enough for a nuclear bomb.
On Friday, Salehi, head of AEOI from 2009 to 2010 and foreign minister from 2010 to August 2013, said: "The activities of AEOI are completely peaceful and in line with the interests of the Iranian nation."
The West accuses Iran of developing nuclear weapon under cover of civilian nuclear programme, and imposed a series of sanctions aimed at crippling Iran's economy, while the latter stresses that its nuclear program is for civilian use only.