Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi said on Wednesday that the country’s uranium enrichment capacity has reached 16,500 separative work units (SWUs).
Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a cabinet meeting in Tehran, Salehi said Iran’s enrichment capacity was about 13,000 SWUs before signing the 2015 nuclear deal which put curbs on the country’s nuclear work.
SWU is the standard measure of the effort required to separate isotopes of uranium during an enrichment process. One SWU is equivalent to one kilogram of separative work.
“Currently the capacity stands at 16,500 SWUs,” said the nuclear chief, adding Iran is now using advanced centrifuges IR4, IR6 and IR2M which have boosted the country’s uranium enrichment capacity, IRNA reported.
Salehi said Iran has produced 55kg of uranium enriched to up to 20% and plans to increase to 120kg by the end of the current Iranian calendar year (ending on March 20, 2022).
Iran's Parliament passed a law last year that obliges the government to harden its nuclear stance, in reaction to former president Donald Trump's withdrawal from the nuclear deal in 2018.
The law required Iran to start enriching to 20% and stipulated that at least 120kg of uranium refined to that level be made each year, which amounts to 10kg a month, Reuters wrote.
Iran's production rate is already "up to 40%" faster than that, AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi indicated on Wednesday.
A quarterly report on Iran's nuclear activities by the UN nuclear watchdog in February said that as of Feb. 16, Iran had produced 17.6kg of uranium enriched up to 20%, with the next level down being enriched between 2% and 5%.