President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says an expanded nuclear program would create enriched uranium to produce electricity. It’s unclear whether Iran has the know-how to carry out the plan.
By Borzou Daragahi
Reporting from New York – Two days after the world’s atomic energy watchdog rebuked Iran for building a small undisclosed uranium enrichment facility, the Islamic Republic’s Cabinet today ordered a dramatic expansion of the nuclear program that would include 10 more nuclear plants.
If completed, the plan to build nuclear enrichment facilities on the scale of the industrial-size 50,000-centrifuge in the town of Natanz would provide Iran with enough enriched uranium to produce 20,000 megawatts of electricity within six years, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said, according to the semiofficial Mehr news agency.
But Iran’s stated plans often don’t square with its capabilities. The oil-and-gas rich Middle East nation of 70 million would need to overcome economic and technical hurdles to mount so ambitious an expansion of its nuclear program. Currently, Iran has installed about 8,000 centrifuges, of which only about half are producing reactor-grade uranium.