Salehi: Iran tested 3G centrifuges

New equipment said to be twice as powerful; Obama calls for more int'l pressure.

By JPOST.COM STAFF, AP
April 9, 2010 17:21
2 minute read.
Ahmadinejad visits of the Natanz Uranium Enrichmen

Ahmadinejad visits Natanz 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)

 
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Iran unveiled a third generation of domestically built centrifuges Friday as the country pushes ahead with plans to accelerate a uranium enrichment program that has alarmed world powers fearful of the nuclear program's aims.

The new machines are capable of much faster enrichment than those now being used in Iran's nuclear facilities, and Iranian officials praised it as a step toward greater self-sufficiency in the face of international sanctions targeted at choking off the nuclear work.

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"Our capable experts at the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran have managed to design a third-generation centrifuge and it has successfully passed all the mechanical tests," said Ali Akbar Salehi, the nuclear chief.

Iran has periodically announced advancements in its efforts to build its own centrifuges, the machines at the core of its disputed nuclear program.

The enrichment technology is of concern to the international community because it can be used to generate power or material for nuclear bombs. Iran insists it only wants to generate power, but the United States and its allies suspect the civilian work is a cover for a weapons program.

In a ceremony Friday marking Iran's National Day of Nuclear Technology, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad unveiled one of the new machines to a crowd of assembled dignitaries.

Iran says it will install more than 50,000 centrifuges at its enrichment facilities in central town of Natanz.

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The international community does not have guarantees that sanctions could serve to change Iran’s behavior, but must continue to exert pressure on Teheran in hopes that the Islamic republic might reconsider the pros and cons of pursuing nuclear weapons, US President Barack Obama said in an interview aired Friday morning and communicated by the Reuters news agency.

Speaking to ABC’s Good Morning America, Obama reportedly said the "the history of the Iranian regime, like the North Korean regime, is that … you apply international pressure on these countries; sometimes they choose to change behavior, sometimes they don't."


The US president was quoted as saying that “consistent” international pressure would get through to a regime “which is not a stupid regime, which is very attentive.”

Meanwhile on Friday, North Korea denounced Obama's nuclear policy as "hostile” and vowed to keep building and expanding its arsenal of atomic weapons.

The blistering criticism from North Korea's Foreign Ministry was carried Friday by the official Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang.

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