Iran remains defiant after new UN sanctions
Tehran says it now can enrich uranium on an 'industrial scale.' Critics call the claim 'nuclear boasting.'
Just weeks after the United Nations imposed tightened sanctions against Iran, the Tehran government defiantly has announced increased uranium enrichment capabilities, as revelations about an Iranian official's banned visit to Russia raised questions about the effectiveness of the new UN resolution.Skip to next paragraph
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The Guardian reports that on Monday, the one-year anniversary of Iran's announcement that it had attained a nuclear fuel cycle, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced at a televised ceremony that "the Iranian nation had joined the group of countries who enriched uranium on an industrial scale."
Before an audience that included his cabinet, senior mullahs and dozens of foreign ambassadors, Mr Ahmadinejad warned [UN] security council members that Iran would "reconsider its treatment towards them" if they continued to oppose its nuclear ambitions. "They have seen again and again that our nation is powerful enough to do that," he said to chants of "death to Britain", "death to America" and "death to Israel". "I advise them to observe the legal rights of different nations and stop monopolising, because that will not be to their benefit."
The Guardian also reports that Ali Larijani, Iran's top diplomat, said his country has 3,000 centrifuges capable of processing uranium. The Associated Press reports that the number of centrifuges allegedly operating is nearly 10 times the previously known number, and in theory is enough to produce a nuclear weapon within a year, but that there is skepticism in the US that Iran really has that many working centrifuges — "a difficult technical feat given the country's spotty success with a much smaller number."
Instead, the announcement may aim to increase support at home amid growing criticism of hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and to boost Iran's hand with the West by presenting its program as established, said Michael Levi, a nonproliferation expert at the Washington-based Council on Foreign Relations.
"From a political perspective, it's more important to have (3,000 centrifuges) in place than to have them run properly," Levi told The Associated Press. "We have an unfortunate habit to take Iran at its word when they make scary announcements."
Iranian news agency Press TV reports that Reza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, announced Iran's intentions to install 50,000 centrifuges in the Natanz uranium enrichment facility, where the 3,000 existing centrifuges are located. He added that "the infrastructure, air conditioning facilities, power and all necessary equipment have been designed and installed for 50,000 centrifuges."
Reuters reports that US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the Monday announcement is "another signal that Iran is defying the international community" and that it shows why UN sanctions against the country are justified.