TEHRAN - Iran announced had successfully enriched uranium to make
nuclear fuel, a major breakthrough in its disputed atomic drive.
officially announcing that Iran has joined the group of those countries which
have nuclear technology. This is the result of the Iranian nation's resistance,"
Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday.
Iran's hard-line President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks in Mashhad, Iran's holiest city Tuesday, April
11, 2006. [AP]
"Based on international regulations, we will continue our path until we
achieve production of industrial-scale enrichment," he told officials and some
ambassadors from regional states gathered in the northeastern city of Mashhad.
The United Nations has said Iran must halt uranium enrichment, a process
Western nations fear Tehran wants to master so that it can develop nuclear
weapons. Tehran insists its aims are entirely peaceful.
The United States warned that Iran's latest declared nuclear advance could
accelerate international pressures on Tehran.
"If the regime continues to move in the direction that it is currently, then
we will be talking about the way forward with the other members of the (U.N.)
Security Council and Germany about how to address this going forward," White
House spokesman Scott McClellan said.
The State Department said it was unable to confirm Iran's announcement and
some experts said even if Tehran's assertions were accurate, it would still be
years before the Islamic state was able to produce a nuclear weapon.
Iran's Atomic Energy Organization head said earlier that Iran had enriched
uranium to a level used in power plants, a major step forward in the country's
"I am proud to announce that we have started enriching uranium to the 3.5
percent level," Gholamreza Aghazadeh said, adding that the pilot enrichment
plant in Natanz, south of Tehran, was now working.
SETBACK TO SECURITY COUNCIL EFFORTS
Iran's announcement is a serious setback to U.N. Security Council efforts to
have Tehran halt enrichment work and it could escalate a confrontation with
Western powers leading to consideration of sanctions against the Islamic