IAEA Report: Iran Installs More Centrifuges at Fordow Enrichment Plant

By Francois Murphy

 – Iran has rapidly installed extra uranium-enriching centrifuges at its Fordow site and begun setting up others, a U.N. nuclear watchdog report said in what diplomats described as limited retaliation to a resolution by the watchdog’s board.

Reuters reported on Wednesday that diplomats said Iran was responding to last week’s International Atomic Energy Agency board resolution against it by expanding its uranium-enrichment capacity at its two underground enrichment sites at Fordow and Natanz, but the escalation is not as big as many had feared.

The confidential IAEA report sent to member states described the steps Iran has taken so far, with the only concrete steps so far at either of its underground sites having been taken at Fordow, which is dug into a mountain.

IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi speaks at a news conference about developments related to the IAEA’s monitoring and verification work in Iran, in Vienna, Austria June 9, 2022. REUTERS/Lisa Leutner

“On 9 and 10 June … Iran informed the Agency that eight cascades each containing 174 IR-6 centrifuges would be installed over the next 3-4 weeks in Unit 1 of FFEP (Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant),” the IAEA report, which was seen by Reuters, said. Cascades are clusters of centrifuges.

“On 11 June 2024, the Agency verified at FFEP that Iran had completed the installation of IR-6 centrifuges in two cascades in Unit 1. Installation of IR-6 centrifuges in four additional cascades was ongoing,” the report said, referring to one of one of Iran‘s most advanced centrifuge models.

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While Iran had long planned to install eight cascades of centrifuges at Fordow’s Unit 1 it had only prepared the “necessary infrastructure” for the cascades rather than installing the machines themselves. Before these new cascades Fordow had eight operating in total.

At its underground enrichment plant at Natanz, Iran fleshed out a plan to install an unspecified number of extra centrifuges, informing the IAEA that it would set up 18 cascades of advanced IR-2m machines.

Iran provided no information regarding when this activity would take place,” the report said.

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(Reporting by Francois Murphy; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Angus MacSwan)