Iran Is Installing More Advanced Centrifuges at Natanz

IAEA: Iran cuts back number of centrifuges doing 60% enrichment

Looking to more than replace the number of centrifuges at Natanz damaged or otherwise rendered inoperable by recent Israeli sabotage, the IAEA reports that Iran is setting up eight cascades worth of more advanced centrifuges at the site.

Reported among the installations are 1,044 IR-2m centrifuges in six cascades, as well as 348 IR-4 centrifuges in two more cascades. Most of what is replaced are IR-1s, and the new ones are vastly more efficient.

Iran sees the improved centrifuges as part of the retaliation over the sabotage attack, underscoring that attacking Natanz is just going to leave the site operating more strongly than before. These capacity increases are also being done to push sanctions relief talks, with Iran emphasizing that they are reversible.

One of those recent moves by Iran was to start 60% enrichment of uranium, by far the highest they’ve ever attempted. The IAEA reports this was being done on two cascades, but has since been reduced to only one. It is reportedly an IR-6 cascade.

Iran has no activities that would make use of 60% enriched uranium directly, and they likely are producing it just to prove they can. While there hasn’t yet been a report on what happens afterwards, they likely are just diluting it back down to levels that make more sense for their civilian program.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.