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The World

Iran Building Centrifuges, Defying Nuclear Watchdog

August 01, 2004|From Reuters

TEHRAN — Iran on Saturday confirmed reports that it had resumed building nuclear centrifuges, which Washington says are intended to enrich uranium to weapons-grade for use in bombs.

Iran's decision backtracks on a pledge in October to Britain, France and Germany to suspend all activities related to uranium enrichment.

"We have started building centrifuges," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said at a news conference. However, he insisted that Iran had not resumed enriching uranium. Enriched uranium can be used to produce energy or make bombs.

Iran previously said it would resume building centrifuges to retaliate against a resolution in June by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N. nuclear watchdog, which rebuked Tehran for its failure to cooperate fully with inspectors.

Diplomats say Iran also has restarted work at a uranium-conversion plant near the central city of Isfahan.

The plant turns processed ore, or yellowcake, into uranium hexafluoride gas, which is pumped into centrifuges to form enriched uranium.

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