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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran has 3,000 nuclear enrichment centrifuges in Natanz - Larijani

RIA Novosti

09/04/2007 18:40 TEHRAN, April 9 (RIA Novosti) - Iran has increased the number of centrifuges for uranium enrichment at the underground nuclear facility in Natanz to up to 3,000, Iran's top nuclear negotiator said Monday.

"The Islamic republic of Iran has installed 3,000 centrifuges and begun feeding them with uranium hexafluoride gas," Ali Larijani said.

Earlier, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said his country has started industrial-scale production of nuclear fuel.

Since Iran resumed uranium enrichment in January 2006, the country has been the focus of international concerns, as some Western countries, particularly the U.S., suspect Tehran is pursuing a covert weapons program. But Tehran has consistently claimed it needs nuclear power for civilian power generation and is fully entitled to its own nuclear program.

The UN Security Council voted unanimously March 24 to impose new sanctions against the Islamic Republic for its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

The new UN Security Council resolution was passed following Tehran's refusal to comply with the previous resolution adopted December 23, 2006.

The new resolution freezes foreign accounts of 13 companies and 15 individuals involved in uranium enrichment and missile development projects, imposes visa restrictions and bans arms exports from Iran. It also threatens new sanctions, if Iran does not comply with the resolution within 60 days, and urges the Islamic Republic to return to negotiations.

Larijani reiterated Monday that Iran will not give up its right to civilian nuclear technology, but is ready to hold talks on its nuclear program aimed at reaching an agreement.

"We are ready for talks with the West to reach an agreement that guarantees the opposite side in the talks a civilian focus to the Iranian nuclear program," Ali Larijani was quoted by Iranian TV as saying. "But during the negotiations, we are not going to give up our rights."

He said one of the reasons why Iran wanted to produce fuel for nuclear power plants independently was a distrust of European countries regarding the nuclear sphere.

"Even having 20 NPPs, the Iranian nation will not feel independent if we need to rely on nuclear fuel from Europe," Larijani said.

"Any deviation from the right to civilian nuclear technologies is a betrayal of future generations," he said.

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