Iran announces nuclear enrichment advance

19 April 2006

Hardline Islamic republic Iran has declared a major advance in its nuclear technology, and raised concerns among the international community, by announcing that it has succeeded in enriching uranium.

The announcement came from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who said the country had joined the list of nations with ‘nuclear technology’ but reiterated that the country has no intention of developing nuclear weapons.

The development follows the resumption of enrichment research activities by Iran back in February that immediately raised international diplomatic efforts to persuade Iran to suspend such activities. These efforts culminated in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) referring Iran to the UN, which in turn has given Iran 30 days to halt its nuclear research activities or face sanctions. Oil prices hit a record high of more than $70 a barrel on the back of fears over Iran's nuclear standoff.

Vice-president and atomic energy chief Gholam Reza Aghazadeh confirmed Iran had also produced 110 tonnes of uranium hexafluoride gas used to feed the enrichment process.

IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei met with senior officials in Iran on the Agency's verification of the country's nuclear programme on 13 April.

Speaking to the press corps in Teheran, he emphasized that Iran needs to take confidence-building measures, including suspension of uranium enrichment activities and the clarification of all outstanding issues related to the verification of its nuclear programme.

ElBaradei is scheduled to report to the Security Council at the end of April on the Iranian nuclear issue.


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