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Group Says Tehran Has Advanced Centrifuges

The Iranian uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz (file photo) (AFP) August 24, 2006 -- An exiled Iranian opposition group claims Tehran has already built 15 P-2 centrifuges and could have hundreds more ready next year.

The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) says the advanced technology could help Iran dramatically speed up uranium enrichment and eventually lead to atomic-bomb material.

The chairman of NCRI's Foreign Affairs Committee, Mohammad Mohadessin, told a news conference in Paris today that his group has located what it believes is a secret production site for P-2 centrifuges near Tehran.

Mohadessin further claims blueprints for the P-2 centrifuges were provided to Iran in 1995 by a black-market network run by Abdul Qadeer Khan, then Pakistan's leading nuclear scientist.

NCRI, which is widely believed to be a front group for the Mujahedin-e Khalq (People's Mujahedin) of Iran, is considered a terrorist organization by the United States.

In August 2002, the group was among the first to alert the world of Iran's uranium-enrichment activities.

(, agency reports)

Talking Technical

Talking Technical

A control panel at the Bushehr nuclear power plant (Fars)

CASCADES AND CENTRIFUGES: Experts and pundits alike continue to debate the goals and status of Iran's nuclear program. It remains unclear whether the program is, as Tehran insists, a purely peaceful enegy project or, as the United States claims, part of an effort to acquire nuclear weapons.
On June 7, 2006, RFE/RL correspondent Charles Recknagel spoke with nuclear expert Shannon Kile of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden to help sort through some of the technical issues involved. "[Natanz] will be quite a large plant," Kile said. "There will be about 50,000 centrifuges and how much enriched uranium that can produce [is] hard to say because the efficiency of the centrifuges is not really known yet. But it would clearly be enough to be able to produce enough [highly-enriched uranium] for a nuclear weapon in fairly short order, if that's the route that they chose to go...." (more)


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THE COMPLETE STORY: RFE/RL's complete coverage of controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear program.


An annotated timeline of Iran's nuclear program.