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Iran Escalates Its Nuclear Rhetoric

Ahmadinejad says his country will install up to 100,000 centrifuges to produce more fuel.

October 02, 2006|From the Associated Press

TEHRAN — Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday said his country was determined to expand its uranium enrichment program, announcing a plan to produce more fuel and calling allegations that Tehran was seeking nuclear weapons a "big lie."

Speaking to professors at Tehran University, Ahmadinejad reinforced his rejection of demands by the U.S. and others to stop enrichment, saying his country was committed to generating nuclear fuel for electricity.

"Allegations or charges by the United States that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons" are a big lie, Ahmadinejad said during his speech, which was broadcast on state-run television.

The process of uranium enrichment can be used to produce fuel for a nuclear reactor or material for a warhead, depending on the level of enrichment.

The U.S. alleges that Iran is seeking to build nuclear weapons, but Iran contends that its program is for peaceful purposes.

Ahmadinejad said in his speech that Iran hoped to install as many as 100,000 centrifuges, which spin uranium gas into enriched material. He did not provide any more details or set a timeline, but installing so many centrifuges could take years.

In April, Iran announced for the first time that it had produced a batch of low-enriched uranium, using 164 centrifuges.

It also has said it plans to install 3,000 centrifuges by the end of the year at its plant in Natanz. Large-scale production would require 54,000 centrifuges.

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