David Byers – Times Online November 7, 2007
President Ahmadinejad of Iran claimed today that his country had developed 3,000 centrifuges for enriching uranium - a sufficient number, according to scientists to allow it to build an atomic bomb within a year.
In a defiant speech, Mr Ahmadinejad also vowed to continue ignoring UN Security Council resolutions to stop Iran's nuclear programme, claiming that "the Iranian nation could not care a less" about two rounds of sanctions that had been imposed.
"We have now reached 3,000 machines," the Iranian leader told a rally in the north eastern city of Birjand.
Enriched uranium can fuel power plants but also, if refined further, provide fissile material for bombs, although Iran says that its nuclear programme is for generating electricity.
Western experts say that, in ideal conditions, Iran's 3,000 centrifuges could enrich enough uranium within a year to make a nuclear warhead. The centrifuges are located at an underground nuclear facility at Natanz in central Iran.
Mr Ahmadeinjad said that he would not back down on uranium enrichment and UN sanctions programmes and resolutions were meaningless. "Some people say implement the resolutions, but we say the resolutions are based on a wrong report," he said.
"Iran will not give any credit to these resolutions. They should know that the Iranian nation could not care less about the sanctions."
He added that the Iranian people "will not retreat an iota from any of their rights, especially nuclear rights".
Rejecting Western pressures to halt the programme, he added: “Our response is: ’Who are you to make comments about the Iranian nation. Do we ask you how many machines you have?"
Two programmes of sanctions have now been imposed which target the Islamic Republic's nuclear programme and ballistic missile programme. In addition, the United States has imposed its own unilateral sanctions, including blacklisting the country's elite Revolutionary Guard corps and its Quds force, accused of arming and training insurgents in Iraq.
It has also blacklisted major Iranian banks and successfully encouraged virtually all major European banks into cutting business with the Islamic republic.
Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) agreed on a timetable in August for Tehran to provide answers to outstanding questions over its nuclear programme. In addition, the EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana is due to publish a report by mid-November.
Last updated 10/11/2007