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Iran's Supreme Leader Vows To Resist Western Pressure


http://gdb.rferl.org/F5C59AAF-AD0E-4B21-9059-110BCB1E2114_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/F5C59AAF-AD0E-4B21-9059-110BCB1E2114_mw800_mh600.jpg Ayatollah Khamenei (file photo) (Fars) June 15, 2006 -- Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said today Tehran would continue to resist Western pressure over its nuclear energy program.

State media quoted Khamenei as saying that "the Islamic Republic of Iran will not succumb to these pressures and it considers the continuation [of its nuclear program] a main objective."

The statement comes after Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki said in Madrid on June 14 that the recent incentives proposal was "very positive" and would be examined seriously. He was referring to the offer of technical and commercial cooperation from the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany to Tehran in exchange for giving up its uranium enrichment.

Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin said today that Tehran reacted positively to the proposal.

Putin said after talks with Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in Shanghai that he has positive feelings about the meeeting.

Iran, which claims its nuclear program is strictly for energy use and not a weapons program as the West fears, has given mixed signals in recent days over the offer.

(Reuters, AFP)
Talking Technical

A control panel at the Bushehr nuclear power plant (Fars)

CASCADES AND CENTRIFUGES: Experts and pundits alike continue to debate the goals and status of Iran's nuclear program. It remains unclear whether the program is, as Tehran insists, a purely peaceful enegy project or, as the United States claims, part of an effort to acquire nuclear weapons.
On June 7, 2006, RFE/RL correspondent Charles Recknagel spoke with nuclear expert Shannon Kile of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden to help sort through some of the technical issues involved. "[Natanz] will be quite a large plant," Kile said. "There will be about 50,000 centrifuges and how much enriched uranium that can produce [is] hard to say because the efficiency of the centrifuges is not really known yet. But it would clearly be enough to be able to produce enough [highly-enriched uranium] for a nuclear weapon in fairly short order, if that's the route that they chose to go...." (more)


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THE COMPLETE STORY: RFE/RL's complete coverage of controversy surrounding Iran's nuclear program.


CHRONOLOGY

An annotated timeline of Iran's nuclear program.

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