Ali Larijani, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator (file photo) (Fars)
August 25, 2006 -- Iran says it has achieved "major new advances" in its nuclear program.
No details were provided, but a government spokesman, Gholam-Hussein
Elham, said Tehran would make an official announcement soon.
unnamed source quoted by the Iranian news agency Mehr said the news
"will further underline" the country's status as a nuclear state.
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)