Iran has weeks not months to freeze enrichment: Bush
Iran confirms stepping up N-activities
TEHRAN: An Iranian official on Friday confirmed that the country has stepped up its nuclear activities, following a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that said the country has accelerated uranium enrichment.
“Iran has started another stage of injecting uranium hexafluoride gas into centrifuge machines,” the Iranian Student News Agency quoted an official as saying. “Iran is also pursuing a plan to have a 3,000-centrifuge cascade by the end of the current year (March 2007),” he said, adding that all material used in uranium enrichment facilities has been produced domestically.
The IAEA report said that Iran had accelerated uranium enrichment on June 6, the same day that world powers had asked it to halt the work and open talks to guarantee that it will not make nuclear weapons. Enriched uranium makes nuclear reactor fuel, and in a highly refined form can produce atom bomb material.
Iran built the cascade as a pilot plant for what it hopes will eventually be an industrial plant of more than 50,000 centrifuges, used to refine the uranium 235 isotope. US President George W Bush said on Friday that Iran had “weeks, not months” to agree to freeze sensitive nuclear activities or face UN Security Council punishment.
“We’ve given the Iranians a limited period of time – you know, weeks, not months – to digest a proposal to move forward. And if they choose not to verifiably suspend their program, then there will be action taken in the UN Security Council,” said Bush.
Iran has until the Group of Eight summit in mid-July to consider an offer of incentives to suspend its nuclear enrichment programme, Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel was quoted as saying on Friday. In Tehran, hard line cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati said that Iran will not stop enriching uranium but is still open to talks on incentives aimed at ending the standoff. Agencies