Iran has unveiled a new “third generation” of centrifuges capable of enriching uranium much faster than current technology allows.
In a speech marking Iran’s annual nuclear day the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation claimed the new devices would have a separation power 10 times that of the first generation.
Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is keen to press ahead with a domestic enrichment programme which he insists is for peaceful purposes only.
But, Western powers fear Iran is heading towards enriching uranium to 90% – the level needed to produce a nuclear weapon.
US President Barack Obama is due to host dozens of world leaders at a two-day summit on nuclear security starting on Monday.
Israel’s prime minister has pulled out of the meeting – say his aides – because Israel’s nuclear programme may be called into question by Arab delegates.
Benjamin Netanyahu said: “I’m not concerned that anyone would think that Israel is a terrorist regime. Everybody knows a terrorist and rogue regime when they see one, and believe me, they see quite a few around Israel.”
Nethanyahu’s staff are said to be concerned that Turkey and Egypt plan to demand that Israel sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Israel has a policy of refusing to either confirm or deny it has a nuclear weapons capability.