IRAN has said it will install faster and more efficient equipment at its Natanz nuclear facility, in defiance of UN sanctions imposed to force the country to abandon uranium enrichment.
Diplomats condemned the announcement – made in a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency – as a "provocation".
Iran said it would install a newer centrifuge which could refine uranium several times faster than the model Iran uses at Natanz.
Iran has more than 10,000 first generation centrifuges at Natanz, 140 miles south-east of Tehran. They can enrich uranium to grades of almost 4pc.
It also has almost 3,000 centrifuges at its Fordow facility that can produce material enriched to 20pc. Production at Fordow has been badly hit by saboteurs.
Use of the better centrifuges at Natanz marks a significant expansion of Iran's nuclear programme.
"It is certainly a provocation to increase any enrichment capacity at all," a senior Western diplomat said.
Iran claims it is enriching uranium only for civilian energy and scientific use. However' many countries fear that Iran may break out from its present production below the weapons-grade threshold and start enriching to levels in excess of 90pc, which are used to develop nuclear weapons. (© Daily Telegraph, London)