Iran plans to introduce its new generation of uranium enrichment centrifuges by March 2011, the head of its Atomic Energy Organization told the Fars news agency on Friday.
Ali Akbar Salehi said that Iran "hopes to be able to use the new generation of centrifuges by the end of the next Iranian year (March 2011) after removing all problems and defects."
"At the moment we are installing sample cascades to evaluate any problems in these new generations... But we are not in a rush to enter the industrial production stage," Salehi told Fars, adding that the new generations are named IR3 and IR4.
The nuclear chief put the number of centrifuges in operation in Iran's nuclear facilities at "more than 6,000."
Salehi said in late September that Iran was testing a new generation of centrifuges in cascades of 10 centrifuges each.
He said that the new centrifuges could enrich uranium with more than five times the output capacity of the earlier ones, and that Iran planned to raise that capacity to 10 times the previous ones.
In April, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced that Iran was testing two kinds of new generation centrifuges.
According to a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency in June, Iran has installed more than 7,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges at a plant in Natanz in the central province of Isfahan.
Iran has been at loggerheads with world powers over its refusal to heed repeated UN Security Council ultimatums to suspend uranium enrichment, the sensitive process which produces fuel for nuclear reactors but in highly extended form can make the fissile core of an atomic bomb.