Iran claims 3,000 centrifuges benchmark

Report: US plans to end Iran's nuke capabilities in strikes on over a thousand targets.

iran dance nuclear 298.8 (photo credit: AP)
iran dance nuclear 298.8
(photo credit: AP)
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced Sunday that the Islamic Republic has attained its long sought after goal of running 3,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium for its controversial nuclear program, state media reported. The UN Security Council had threatened to impose a third round of sanctions against the country if it didn't freeze its uranium enrichment program which Iran maintains is for peaceful energy purposes, but the US says is to hide a weapons program. "The West thought the Iranian nation would give in after just a resolution, but now we have taken another step in the nuclear progress and launched more than 3,000 centrifuge machines, installing a new cascade every week," the state television Web site quoted Ahmadinejad as saying. Meanwhile, the US has drawn up plans to destroy Iran's nuclear capabilities in three days by carrying out large-scale air strikes against over a thousand targets, a national security expert told the Sunday Times. According to the report, Alexis Debat, director of terrorism and national security at the Nixon Center, told the Times that the Pentagon plans to "take out the entire Iranian military" and was not interested in conducting "pinprick strikes" against Iran's nuclear facilities. The US military, said Debat, arrived at the conclusion that "whether you go for pinprick strikes or all-out military action, the reaction from the Iranians will be the same… very legitimate strategic calculus." In related news, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei named a new head for the elite Revolutionary Guard, an organization Washington is looking to list as a terrorist group, state media announced. No reason was given for the change Saturday and it was not clear if the reshuffle would affect the possible US move to pressure businesses the corps is thought to control, from construction to oil sectors. The United States accuses the Guard of responsibility for terrorist acts abroad and especially violence against American forces in Iraq. Khamenei appointed Mohammed Ali Jafari, described only as a senior figure in the hardline force with "valuable experience and shining record," to replace General Yahya Rahim Safavi, who has led the Guards for the last decade. The decision comes two weeks after Safavi told the local press that the Guards would retaliate against Washington's attempts to register it as terrorist. "America will receive a heavier punch from the guards in the future," he was quoted as saying on August 16 by the conservative daily Kayhan. "We will never remain silent in the face of US pressure and we will use our leverage against them." Safavi, meanwhile, was appointed in a separate decree as the supreme leader's top adviser. Reshuffles of top military commanders take place with relative frequency among the other branches of the service but the Revolutionary Guards appeared to be the exception with Safavi's decade-long tenure. The estimated 200,000-strong Revolutionary Guards answers directly to Khamenei and is seen as a defender of the clerical establishment brought to power by the 1979 Islamic revolution that swept away a pro-US regime.