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Iran Urges World To Accept 'New Reality'

April 10, 2007 -- Iran says it will not accept any suspension of its uranium-enrichment activities and urges world powers to accept the "new reality" of the Islamic republic's nuclear program.

"We think that the other side and other parties should act with the understanding of the new realities," Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki said today in Tehran. "And if they have something new to say, we have always said that we are ready to take part in complete and full negotiations, without preconditions, to find a solution to the nuclear issue."

Mottaki's comes a day after President Mahmud Ahmadinejad announced that Iran is now capable of producing nuclear fuel on an industrial scale through enrichment.

The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Gholam Reza Aqazadeh, today said Tehran is seeking to install 50,000 centrifuges at a plant in central Iran. He suggested that 3,000 centrifuges had already been installed at the plant in Natanz.

Russia Skeptical, EU 'Concerned'

Russia today voiced skepticism about Iran's April 9 announcement. Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said in a statement that Russia is unaware of any technological breakthroughs that would allow Iran to enrich uranium on an industrial scale.

The statement said Moscow had yet to receive confirmation of Tehran's claim.

"We are clarifying the situation, including in our contacts with experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency who are still working in Iran, as you know," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told journalists in Moscow today. "So far we've had no confirmation that enrichment has in fact started at the new cascades."

The United States and European Union have renewed their calls for Iran to suspend uranium-enrichment activities.

Germany, which currently hold the EU Presidency, said today it viewed with "great concern" Iran's statement that it had achieved the means to enrich uranium on an industrial scale. The German Foreign Ministry said in a statement the EU was renewing its "urgent call" on Iran to meet the demands of the international community so that a negotiated solution can be found to the standoff over its nuclear program.

A spokeswomen for EU foreign-policy chief Javier Solana said there was no way to verify Iran's claims unless international inspections, now stalled, were fully resumed.

Two sets of UN sanctions have been imposed on Iran over its refusal to halt such work. Western nations suspect Iran's nuclear program is aimed at producing atomic weapons. Tehran denies this.

(compiled from agency reports)

Copyright (c) 2007 RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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