Iran has doubled the number of certain advanced centrifuges for enriching uranium, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed on Monday, after Tehran said it would take further steps away from its nuclear deal with major powers.
IAEA inspectors verified on Sunday that 22 centrifuges of the IR-4 type were installed at Iran's enrichment plant in Natanz, up from 11 that had been there over the past few months, according to IAEA spokesman Fredrik Dahl. The numbers of other types of centrifuges stayed roughly the same.
However, none of these machines were operating at the weekend.
Iran's new efforts to advance enrichment technology could eventually help it to build stocks of higher-grade uranium at faster rates, reducing the time it would take Tehran to produce material for nuclear warheads if it wanted to.
The 2015 nuclear deal placed strict limits on Iran's uranium production that can be used for fuelling reactors or filling warheads. Economic sanctions were eased in return, but the United States pulled out of the agreement in 2018 under President Donald Trump.
European allies who opposed the US withdrawal have tried to help Iran circumvent US sanctions and keep the deal alive, but Iran says these efforts have been insufficient so far.
In recent months, Tehran had started moving away from the pact by surpassing limits on the allowed amount and purity level of uranium.
Acting IAEA chief Cornel Feruta met Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and other senior officials in Tehran on Sunday to get updates on the Islamic Republic's latest move concerning centrifuge research and development.
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