Iran has 4,000 operational centrifuges at the uranium enrichment plant in Natanz in central Iran, deputy foreign minister Alireza Sheikh-Attar said Friday.
Official news agency IRNA quoted the minister as saying that almost 4,000 centrifuges were operating in Natanz and 3,000 more were in the stage of installation, reported dpa.
The remarks by Sheikh-Attar, who according to IRNA is to become Iran's next ambassador to Germany, contradict last month's claims by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that out of the 6,000 new centrifuges, 5,000 have become operational.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has so far confirmed that about 3,000 to 3,500 centrifuges were operational at the Natanz plant. Iranian claims of the number of centrifuges often do not match IAEA reports.
Centrifuges are used for enriching uranium and if the enrichment percentage is low, the uranium could be used merely for nuclear fuel, but at a higher percentage it could also be used - as feared by the West and denied by Tehran - to make an atomic bomb.