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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran starts to install 6,000 enrichment centrifuges - Ahmadinejad

RIA Novosti

08/04/2008 13:04 TEHRAN, April 8 (RIA Novosti) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday that the Islamic Republic had started to install another 6,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges at its underground facility in Natanz, Iranian TV said.

"The process of installing another 6,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium at the Natanz plant began today," Ahmadinejad said after visiting the facility on Iran's Nuclear Technology Day, which marks the second anniversary of the country's first successful enrichment of uranium.

He also promised more news on Iran's achievements in the nuclear sphere later in the day. "We have taken other steps [in the sphere], and announcements on them will be made today."

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran has around 3,000 functional enrichment centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear research center, which experts believe is enough to launch full-scale production of nuclear fuel.

Iran currently uses 'P-1' centrifuges that are prone to breakdown when working at high speed for long periods. However, the new centrifuges are believed to be of the advanced 'P-2' model, which is more reliable and can enrich uranium to weapons-grade levels.

The country's leaders previously said that they intended to install 50,000 centrifuges at Natanz to make the country independent of nuclear fuel imports.

The country's nuclear program has contributed to tensions with Washington, with U.S. President George Bush refusing late last year to rule out military action against Teheran despite a report by the country's intelligence community which suggested that the Islamic Republic had halted attempts to create a nuclear bomb in 2003

Tehran has repeatedly defied international demands to halt uranium enrichment, used both in weapons and electricity production, insisting it needs the process to generate electricity. The country is under three sets of UN sanctions over its uranium program.

The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany plan to meet in April to discuss future steps in resolving the Iranian nuclear program crisis.

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