Iran Nuclear NewsIran says nuclear enrichment work has not stopped

Iran says nuclear enrichment work has not stopped

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Reuters: Iran is pressing ahead with nuclear enrichment activities at its underground Natanz facility, foreign ministry spokesman said on Sunday, dismissing some suggestions that the disputed enrichment work had stalled. TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran is pressing ahead with nuclear enrichment activities at its underground Natanz facility, foreign ministry spokesman said on Sunday, dismissing some suggestions that the disputed enrichment work had stalled.

“Our activities at the Natanz nuclear enrichment facility continue as scheduled,” Mohammad Ali Hosseini told a weekly news conference.

As an immediate reaction to the U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution passed on December 23, Iran said defiantly it would immediately start installing 3,000 centrifuges, which experts say could enrich uranium in sufficient volume for power plant fuel, or for one bomb within a year.

But western diplomats and analysts told Reuters last week that Iran appeared not to have begun installing the machines for planned “industrial scale” output of enriched uranium.

Iran has vowed never to heed the Council’s demand to shelve nuclear enrichment work, saying it needs nuclear fuel only for power plants, not for bombs as the United States and EU allies — who sponsored sanctions — suspect.

Some diplomats believed that Iran was reacting cautiously to the resolution following election losses by nuclear hardliners to moderates counselling restraint.

Iran’s parliament last month passed a bill obliging the government to revise its level of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and to accelerate nuclear work.

But Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said Tehran had no intention of pulling out of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and ending IAEA inspections of its nuclear sites.

Iran already has two cascades of 164 centrifuges running, which spin at supersonic speeds to enrich uranium, and has said it plans to install 3,000 centrifuges by March 2007 at its pilot plant in Natanz, which Tehran says will eventually house tens of thousands of the machines.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has dismissed the U.N. resolution as just a “piece of torn paper”, calling on the West to learn to live with an Iran that possesses nuclear energy technology.

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