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10 Apr 2007 11:47
Iran said on Tuesday it is still seeking to hugely expand its nuclear programme by installing 50 000 uranium-enriching centrifuges at a nuclear plant after announcing its atomic drive had entered an industrial phase.
“The objective of the Islamic Republic of Iran is not just the installation of 3 000 centrifuges at the Natanz plant but we are doing everything to install 50 000 centrifuges,” said Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran’s atomic energy organisation.
Iran said on Monday it could now enrich uranium on an industrial scale but did not disclose how many centrifuges it had now installed at the Natanz plant in central Iran to enrich uranium.
Aghazadeh said he did not disclose at a ceremony on Monday the number of centrifuges Iran has installed at a massive underground facility in Natanz as he did not want to “create ambiguities” about Iran’s objectives.
“I did not want people to say that Iran has finished installing 3 000 centrifuges and everything has been completed now,” he said.
“I thought that foreign media might interpret that the nuclear programme of Iran had come to an end with the installation of 3 000 centrifuges,” he said.
“On the contrary, we have entered into the industrial phase and the installation of machines will continue until we reach 50 000 centrifuges,” he added.
The United States, which accuses Tehran of seeking nuclear weapons and has not ruled out the option of military action to bring Iran to heel, said it was “very concerned” by Monday’s announcement.
Enrichment of uranium is the key sticking point in the stand-off between Iran and the West as the process can produce nuclear fuel but in highly extended form can also make the fissile core for an atomic bomb.
Iran insists its nuclear drive is solely aimed at generating energy. â€’ Reuters
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