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Ahmadinejad Cancels Trip To UN

President Ahmadinejad speaking to reporters in Tehran earlier this month (ISNA) March 24, 2007 -- Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad has canceled a planned visit to New York to address the UN Security Council because of what Iran says were U.S. delays in granting visas to his entourage.

Foreign ministry spokesman Muhammad Ali Hosseini confirmed on March 23 an earlier announcement by Tehran's UN Ambassador Javad Zarif about the cancellation.

Ahmadinejad was to address the council before it votes on imposing new sanctions on Iran for its nuclear program. The meeting is scheduled for today, with a vote on sanctions expected at around 3 p.m. local time.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the passports with the visas were delivered in the morning of March 23 at the U.S. Embassy in Bern, Switzerland, but Zarif said that was "too late."

Zarif said Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki, who had received his visa earlier on March 23, would take a commercial flight to New York to address the council.

(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.