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Iran Proceeds With Uranium Enrichment

17 February 2006 -- A high-ranking Iranian official says the Islamic republic has injected uranium gas into a small number of centrifuges, a step in the process of uranium enrichment.

Gholamreza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, said on state television that Iran is not yet at the point of getting enriched uranium, and that several more months of work may be necessary.

The official added that Iran does not plan to leave the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, and said Iran would still make its nuclear facilities open for monitoring by the United Nations' nuclear watchdog agency.

Aghazadeh also said Tehran remains ready to discuss a Russian proposal to have Iranian uranium-enrichment work carried out on Russian territory.

The official's comments came after France, for the first time, on 16 February accused Iran of pursuing a secret nuclear weapons program. Iran rejected the allegation and accused France of trying to raise tensions.

(Reuters, AFP)

Copyright (c) 2006. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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