President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Saturday that his country has expanded its contentious uranium enrichment program at a plant in central Iran, a semi-official news agency reported.

"We have started installing 3,000 centrifuges," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the Fars news agency.

"This is the first step toward industrial production. We will be able to produce our nuclear fuel once we install 60,000 centrifuges," he said. Centrifuges spin uranium gas into enriched material to produce nuclear fuel.

Iran has been locked in a standoff with the West over its nuclear program. The United States and its European allies have been seeking a U.N. Security Council resolution to impose sanctions on Tehran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment.

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