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Iran testing new centrifuges

TEHRAN, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Iran is in the process of testing a new generation of uranium centrifuges as it moves toward a 20-percent enrichment threshold, atomic directors said.

Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, told the semiofficial Fars News Agency that a new generation of centrifuges is undergoing testing.

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"At present we have included the new generations of centrifuges in our (uranium) enrichment activities and these new generations (centrifuges) are passing necessary tests rapidly," he said.

Iranian nuclear scientists expect to incorporate the new centrifuges for full-scale production by early 2011.

"That is not a good idea to enter the production stage without passing the required technical and industrial phases," said the director. He added there were now more than 6,000 centrifuges enriching uranium in Iran.

Tehran announced at the beginning of December it would move forward with plans to enrich uranium to 20 percent as international pressure mounts.

Washington and many of its Western allies believe Iran is using its civilian nuclear work as a cover for a weapons program, an accusation Tehran denies.

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