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Iran Again Insists On Uranium Enrichment

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi (file photo) (epa) August 20, 2006 -- Iran today reiterated that it will not suspend uranium enrichment, ruling out the main demand in a nuclear proposal backed by six world powers.

Iran said it would formally respond by August 22 to an offer made by the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain, and Germany. The six have offered incentives for Iran to suspend enrichment, a process that can have both military and civilian uses.

Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Assefi said in Tehran outstanding issues should be decided by negotiations. He added, however, that "uranium enrichment is not on our agenda."

The UN Security Council already passed a resolution demanding Iran suspend enrichment by August 31, or face possible sanctions.

The Iranian Foreign Ministry also said today UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will visit Tehran in the coming weeks, presumably to discuss the nuclear issue.

(compiled from agency reports)

Talking Technical

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.


An annotated timeline of Iran's nuclear program.