Wednesday 07 November 2007

Ahmadinejad : 3,000 centrifuges fully working

BIRJAND, Iran (AP) — Iran has achieved a landmark with 3,000 centrifuges fully working in its controversial uranium enrichment program, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Wednesday.

Ahmadinejad has in the past claimed Iran succeeded in installing the 3,000 centrifuges at its uranium enrichment facility at Natanz. Wednesday's claim was his first official statement that the plant is now fully operating the 3,000 centrifuges.

"We have now reached 3,000 machines," Ahmadinejad told thousands of Iranians in Birjand in eastern Iran, in a show of defiance of international demands to halt the program believed to be masking the country's nuclear arms efforts.

Centrifuges are used in enriching uranium, a process that can produce either fuel for a nuclear reactor or material for a warhead.

The U.S. and allies accuse Iran of using a civilian power program as cover to develop nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge and insists it needs the technology to generate power.

Iran's nuclear program "irreversible"

TEHRAN (Reuters) : Iran's nuclear program is "irreversible," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday, voicing continued defiance in the face of possible new international sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Ahmadinejad also reiterated that Iran now has 3,000 centrifuges, which are used to enrich uranium. Enriched uranium can fuel power plants but also, if refined further, provide material for bombs.

Western experts say 3,000 machines running smoothly for long periods at supersonic speed could make enough enriched uranium for an atomic bomb in about a year, if Iran wanted, and form the basis for "industrial-scale" nuclear fuel production.

"The Iranian nation has entered the phase of industrial scale of nuclear fuel (production) and the train of the Iranian nation's progress is irreversible," Ahmadinejad told a rally in South Khorasan province broadcast live on state television.

"Today, we've reached 3,000 centrifuges," he said.

Ahmadinejad, who like other Iranian leaders rejects U.S. accusations the country is seeking to develop atom bombs, said in September that Iran had "more than 3,000 centrifuges working" and that more were installed every week.

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