The head of Iran’s nuclear programme announced that Tehran was working on a prototype centrifuge that is 50 times faster than those allowed under the nuclear deal his country struck with world powers.
The comments by Ali Akbar Salehi came as Iranians marked the 40th anniversary of the 1979 US Embassy takeover and start of a 444-day hostage crisis.
Salehi said the prototype is called an IR-9.
The 2015 nuclear deal limited Iran to using only 5,060 first-generation IR-1 centrifuges to enrich uranium by rapidly spinning uranium hexafluoride gas.
Salehi, earlier in the same state TV interview, said that Tehran was now operating 60 IR-6 advanced centrifuges in violation of its atomic deal with world powers. That’s double the amount previously known.
By starting up these advanced centrifuges, Iran further cuts into the one-year time limit that experts estimate Tehran would need to have enough material to build a nuclear weapon, if it chose to pursue one.
Iran has steadily increased its breaches of the nuclear accord as it pushes its European partners to find a way around US sanctions that have kept it from selling oil abroad and crippled the Iranian economy.