On February 25, Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad said Iran had the technology to produce nuclear fuel, and its program now was like a train "which has no brake and no reverse gear."
U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the United States was ready to talk to Iran on trade and political issues if Tehran halted weapons-related activities.
The UN nuclear agency reported last week that Iran had ignored a UN Security Council ultimatum to freeze its uranium-enrichment program and instead had expanded the program by setting up hundreds of centrifuges.
In December, the Security Council imposed some sanctions on Iran over its refusal to suspend enrichment and gave it 60 days to halt enrichment. That grace period expired on February 21.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Said Jalili today accused the global powers of spawning the crisis of confidence.
"The great powers have to put an end to our worries and respect the right of Iran," Jalili said, according to the Fars News Agency. "We have done what was necessary to put an end to their worries. It is their job now to end our worries and win our confidence."
(Reuters, dpa, AP, Fars)
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)