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Ali Asghar Soltanieh (file photo) (epa) March 8, 2007 -- Iran says cuts in technical aid to Tehran by the UN's nuclear agency will not affect its uranium-enrichment work.


The Iranian ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, blamed the UN Security Council, saying it had undermined the IAEA's independence.


"[The IAEA's cuts in technical aid to Iran] would have no effect on our uranium-enrichment program because none of them have been on the issue of enrichment, and even the rest of the projects are not related to the enrichment," Soltanieh said. "Therefore, the enrichment program has been indigenous and independent. Nobody, not even the IAEA, has cooperated or worked with us, and therefore this project will continue as planned, under the supervision of the IAEA."


Soltanieh's comment came after the IAEA's governing body decided by consensus to freeze or curb 22 of 55 aid projects in response to Tehran's refusal to halt uranium enrichment as demanded by the UN Security Council.


Today's move comes as representatives of the Security Council's major powers have been holding discussions on a possible new set of sanctions.


Western powers suspect Iran is using its nuclear program as a cover to build nuclear arms, but Tehran says its program is only meant to generate electricity.


(AFP, Reuters)

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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