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Iran: Nuclear announcement coming in April


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TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran's controversial president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Sunday his country will make an announcement in April about new nuclear achievements.

Reports surfaced last fall that Tehran was trying to produce 3,000 centrifuges and expected to meet the goal by March of this year. The report was published by the Iranian Student News Agency and quoted a member of parliament.

Last month, an official with Iran's nuclear agency denied Iran was building 3,000 centrifuges.

However, a senior U.S. official said some officials had expected Ahmadinejad to announce in his speech Sunday that Iran had put those centrifuges in place.

The production of 3,000 centrifuges would allow Iran to begin industrial scale production of nuclear fuel -- a move that has raised international concern that the country might ultimately produce nuclear weapons.

Ahmadinejad said Iran will not come to the negotiating table with Western nations if suspension of Tehran's nuclear program is a precondition for talks.

"If you seek negotiation why do you insist on suspension? If we suspend, what do we want to talk about?" he asked, as a crowd dressed mostly in black -- some holding signs reading "Down with America" -- looked on.

"How come your factories and reactors are working day and night while you're asking our factories and centers to stop its facilities? Our nation will never accept such conditions."

The president warned the Western nations that Tehran will not permit any of its "rights" to be taken away, by word or by action.

"The world must know that if they try to deny that right to us they will be the most hated nation," he said. Applause rippled through the crowd.

Iran has repeatedly said uranium enrichment is its right and will not be abandoned, despite United Nations demands.

The U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions on Iran in December for its failure to halt uranium enrichment activities. The sanctions require the prevention of any supply, sale or transfer to Iran of any equipment, technology or information that could contribute to enrichment activities or to nuclear weapons systems.

Ahmadinejad brushed away the threat of further sanctions in his speech Sunday, calling them "ineffective."

"It is a tactic from 30 years ago. It does not have any effect on us," he said.

Asked about U.S. reaction to Ahmadinejad's speech, U.S. National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe reiterated Washington's willingness to talk to Iran once it complies with the U.N. Security Council resolution.

"The international community is united in this, but unfortunately, we didn't hear anything today that leads us to believe Iran is going to take the steps expected of them," Johndroe said.

Ahmadinejad said Tehran has brought on "the most transparent solution" in an attempt to build confidence with the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog agency, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency.

On Saturday, Tehran announced it is now in compliance with demands made earlier by the IAEA that it make its nuclear program more transparent.

Surveillance cameras have now been installed at the Natanz nuclear facilities, making it "possible for the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor Natanz nuclear site thoroughly," Iran's state-run news agency IRNA reported.

On Friday, the IAEA decided to suspend nearly half its aid projects in the heavily scrutinized country.

Meanwhile, Iran's top nuclear negotiator told global security officials meeting in Munich, Germany, that his country did not pose a nuclear threat to any nation, The Associated Press reported.

CNN News

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