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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

Apr 15th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow Iran has over 3,000 centrifuges: Ahmadinejad
Iran has over 3,000 centrifuges: Ahmadinejad PDF Print E-mail
Written by AFP - AP   
Sunday, 02 September 2007

An Iranian technician works inside the Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facilities ©AFP/File - Behrouz Mehri
An Iranian technician works inside the Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facilities ©AFP/File - Behrouz Mehri

TEHRAN (AFP) - President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday Iran had reached a key goal in its atomic drive by putting into operation more than 3,000 uranium-enriching centrifuges in defiance of world powers. 

His typically defiant announcement came as Iran steps up cooperation with the UN atomic agency to answer questions about its atomic drive, in a move expected to stave off further sanctions for several months.

"They (world powers) thought that by issuing any resolution Iran would back down," Ahmadinejad told Islamist students, referring to the two sanctions resolutions imposed against Tehran by the UN Security Council.

"But after each resolution the Iranian nation took another step along the path of nuclear development," he said, according to the website of state broadcasting.

"Now it has put into operation more than 3,000 centrifuges and every week we install a new series."

The installation of 3,000 centrifuges has always been earmarked by Iran as the key medium-term goal of its nuclear programme which it had originally hoped to reach by March.

A UN atomic energy agency report obtained by AFP last week however said that Iran was still short of 3,000 centrifuges.

It said that as of 19 August Iran had twelve 164-centrifuge cascades operating at its uranium enrichment plant in the central town of Natanz, a total of 1,968 centrifuges.

A further 656 centrifuges were in development, it added.

Gas is fed into the centrifuges to produce enriched uranium, which can be used to make nuclear power and, in highly enriched form, the fissile core of a nuclear bomb.

The United States accuses Iran of seeking to manufacture nuclear weapons but Tehran insists its atomic drive is aimed only at generating electricity for a growing population.

Iran agreed a timetable with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last month to answer outstanding questions over its atomic drive and confirm its peaceful nature.

The foreign ministry spokesman warned Iran would "reconsider" its cooperation with the UN atomic agency if the Security Council imposed a third set of sanctions.

"We will continue our cooperation with the IAEA," Mohammad Ali Hosseini told reporters.

"But if there is a new United Nations (Security Council) resolution we will reconsider our cooperation with the IAEA and we will study different options."

Hosseini did not specify what the options were but top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani has already warned that any further sanctions will render Iran's cooperation with the agency "sterile".

The IAEA has welcomed Iran's willingness to answer the questions on its atomic drive as a "a significant step forward" but the United States has expressed doubts over the agreement.

The agency's director Mohamed ElBaradei warned in an interview due out Monday that Iran may be missing its "last chance" if it fails to resolve the nuclear dispute by the end of the year.

"By November, or December at the latest, we should be able to state whether the Iranians are keeping their promises. If they don't keep them, Tehran will have passed by an important chance, perhaps the last,", ElBaradei told Der Spiegel.

However, the IAEA chief urged international players to "encourage" Iran to cooperate. "Beside sanctions, there must also be encouragement," he said, underlining that "sanctions alone will not bring any durable solution."

AFP 02/09/2007 13h33



Iran's Nuclear Threat


Iran: Uranium Centrifuge Goal Reached
By NASSER KARIMI – 1 hour ago

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran's president claimed Sunday that his country is now running 3,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium for its controversial nuclear program — a long-sought Iranian goal.

The claim contradicted a report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Thursday that put the number much lower — at close to 2,000. The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency said enrichment had slowed and Iran was cooperating with its nuclear probe, which could fend off calls for a third round of sanctions.

"The West thought the Iranian nation would give in after just a resolution, but now we have taken another step in the nuclear progress and launched more than 3,000 centrifuge machines, installing a new cascade every week," Ahmadinejad told a group of students in remarks carried by the state television Web site.

Iran previously announced operating 3,000 centrifuges in April, but the IAEA said at the time that Iran had only 328 centrifuges operating at its underground Natanz enrichment facility in central Iran.

In the latest report, drawn up by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, the organization put the number of centrifuges enriching uranium in Natanz at close to 2,000 with another 650 being tested.

The 2,000 figure is an increase of a few hundred of the machines over May, when the IAEA last reported on Iran. Still the rate of expansion is much slower than a few months ago, when the country was assembling close to 200 centrifuges every two weeks.

"The recent report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog agrees with Iran's approach and the dispute over Iran's nuclear case has ended," Ahmadinejad said. The latest IAEA report noted an increased willingness by the Iranians to answer questions after years of stonewalling.

The U.N, Security Council has so far passed two sets of sanctions targeting Iranian individuals and businesses involved in the country's nuclear and missile programs. The resolutions also ordered countries to stop supplying Iran with materials and technology for these programs.

The latest announcement could spur renewed calls for a third set of sanctions.

U.N. officials have suggested that Iran had slowed its program and increased its cooperation with the agency investigators to avert new sanctions.

Iran's ultimate stated goal for the Natanz facility, the only site now open to full IAEA monitoring, is to run 54,000 centrifuges — enough for dozens of nuclear weapons a year.

Uranium gas, spun in linked centrifuges, can result in either low-enriched fuel suitable to generate power, or the weapons-grade material that forms the fissile core of nuclear warheads.

Iran insists it wants to master the technology only to meet future power needs and argues it is entitled to enrich under a Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty provision giving all pact members the right to develop peaceful programs.


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