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    Iran operates 3,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges - president

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    Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday Iran had installed and was running more than 3,000 nuclear centrifuges used for enriching uranium.

    TEHRAN, September 2 (RIA Novosti) - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday Iran had installed and was running more than 3,000 nuclear centrifuges used for enriching uranium.

    Since Iran resumed uranium enrichment in January 2006, the country has been the focus of international concerns, as some Western countries, particularly the U.S., suspect Tehran is pursuing a covert weapons program. But Tehran has consistently claimed it needs nuclear power for civilian power generation and is fully entitled to its own nuclear program.

    "We have more than 3,000 centrifuges operating and every week a new set is installed," the Iranian news agency Fars quoted Ahmadinejad as saying.

    On April 19, Ahmadinejad said that Iran had mastered industrial-scale production of nuclear fuel, giving up a research-level program.

    The Iranian leadership has repeatedly said it planned to install 50,000 gas centrifuges to enrich uranium, which will make the country independent from nuclear fuel imports.

    International experts have said creating enough highly-enriched uranium for a nuclear bomb would take one year if 3,000 centrifuges are involved, but only five weeks to two months if 50,000 centrifuges are used.

    The UN Security Council has passed two sanctions resolutions against Iran since December over the Islamic Republic's failure to meet a UN demand to halt uranium enrichment. The six countries negotiating the dispute - the UN Security Council permanent members plus Germany - have demanded that Tehran suspend all uranium enrichment before negotiating a solution to the nuclear program.

    Iran insists that it needs nuclear power purely to generate electricity.

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