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Iran To Install 3,000 Centrifuges At Natanz

President Ahmadinejad visited Natanz in February (Fars) December 24, 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Iran says it will start installing 3,000 centrifuges at its Natanz uranium-enrichment plant from today as an "immediate reaction" to a UN Security Council resolution.

The resolution adopted on December 23 imposes sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend its uranium-enrichment work.

Today's announcement was made by Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani, who was quoted by the "Kayhan" newspaper.

Installing 3,000 centrifuges would be an important step for Iran toward enriching uranium on an industrial scale, a process the West fears could be diverted to make a nuclear bomb. Tehran denies the charge. Iran currently has two cascades of 164 centrifuges at the plant in Natanz.

President Mahmud Ahmadinejad today dismissed the UN resolution as a "scrap of paper," while Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini called the resolution "unjust."

"This resolution is a political act and an act that is beyond law, it is discriminatory and unjust," Hosseini said. "The resolution was adopted about a country that is a member of the [Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty], a country that is committed to NPT articles and the regulations of the [International Atomic Energy Agency]."

Ahmadinejad Denounces The UN

In a speech in Tehran today, Ahmadinejad addressed the international community directly.

"We are sorry for you because you lost the opportunity to become friends with the Iranian nation," he said. "We told you, we advised you, and you know it yourselves that you are not capable of harming the Iranian nation, not even a bit."

"Don’t you understand yet that the world has changed?" Ahmadinejad continued. "You haven't left any reputation for the United Nations and the Security Council. What kind of Security Council is this? It is the lackey of the Zionist regime and the lackey of the United States and Britain. You have left it with no standing, it has no legitimacy."

The punitive measure against Iran is less restrictive than the original draft, drawn up by Britain, France, and Germany, due to Russian objections.

However, some voices in Iran called for continued talks and diplomacy.

"Despite the adoption of this resolution, which should not be considered as the end of talks with Iran, all domestic, regional, and international [forces] should do their best so that the road to diplomacy reopens," former reformist Iranian legislator Elaheh Koulaii told Radio Farda today.

Israel today welcomed the resolution. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said it will enable the international community to"reach positive results in order to block the Iranian nuclear program."

Israel's Foreign Ministry had earlier hailed the move but called for still more action against the Islamic republic.

(with material from Reuters, AFP, AP)

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.