Iran plans to install more centrifuges

Iran informed the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Wednesday that it plans to install more advanced IR-2m centrifuges at the underground uranium enrichment plant in Natanz.

"Iran has indicated that it plans to install two additional series of 174 IR-2m centrifuges at the fuel enrichment plant to enrich uranium-235 to a purity of 5%," the IAEA said in a report to member states Reuters obtained, thus increasing the total number of IR-2m series centrifuges scheduled to be installed, being installed, or already operating in the facility to six.

An agency report issued on February 1 confirmed that Iran had operated a second series of IR-2m centrifuges at the Natanz fuel enrichment plant and was installing two more.

The 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and the major powers stipulates that Tehran can only enrich at a fuel enrichment plant using the much less efficient first-generation centrifuges IR-1.

In this context, the agency said on Wednesday that its Director General, Rafael Grossi, will visit Iran next Saturday in an attempt to find a "mutually acceptable solution" that would allow it to continue inspections in the country, and added that Grossi would hold talks with senior Iranian officials, whom it did not identify.

The agency explained that the goal is "to find a mutually acceptable solution for the International Atomic Energy Agency to continue its basic verification activities in the country."

Grossi's visit comes amid diplomatic efforts to salvage the 2015 deal between Iran and world powers, which has begun to fade since the withdrawal of former US President Donald Trump from it in 2018.

Tehran is using its violations of the agreement to pressure the remaining signatories - France, Germany, Britain, Russia and China - to provide Iran with more incentives to compensate for the US sanctions that were re-imposed after the US withdrawal.

In another context, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed, in a phone call with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, "concern" about the future of the nuclear deal in light of Tehran's retreat from a number of its obligations within it, according to her spokesman.


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