Thursday, May 04, 2006

Iran Says it Can Mass-produce Uranium Enrichment Centrifuges
Iran now has the knowhow to mass-produce centrifuges used to enrich uranium, an official said today, as Western powers stepped up efforts to secure a freeze of the sensitive nuclear work. "Iran can now mass-produce centrifuges. This is an important success, because no other country was willing to sell us this technology," Iranian Atomic Energy Organisation official Hossein Faghihian told the local media.

Centrifuges are used to enrich uranium for either nuclear reactor fuel or atomic bomb material. They work in cascades of hundreds, or thousands, spinning at high speed to refine out the uranium U-235 isotope.

Enrichment is seen as a "breakout capacity" which, once mastered, makes manufacturing nuclear weapons possible. READ MORE

Tehran says its nuclear programme is a peaceful effort to generate electricity, but there are widespread suspicions that the country is seeking nuclear weapons or the capacity to make them.

France and Britain yesterday circulated a draft resolution in the UN Security Council that would legally oblige Iran to comply with UN demands that it freeze uranium enrichment.

The text, worked out in close consultations with Germany and the United States, invokes Chapter 7 of the UN Charter, which can authorise economic sanctions or even, as a last resort, the use of military force in cases of threats to international peace and security.