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Iran to Activate Thousands of Uranium Centrifuges, Ahmadinejad Says

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad takes a 2008 tour of the Natanz uranium enrichment complex south of Tehran. The outgoing leader this week said his country would soon begin operating 5,000 additional uranium enrichment centrifuges (AP Photo/Iranian Presidency). Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad takes a 2008 tour of the Natanz uranium enrichment complex south of Tehran. The outgoing leader this week said his country would soon begin operating 5,000 additional uranium enrichment centrifuges (AP Photo/Iranian Presidency).

Iran is poised to activate 5,000 more uranium enrichment centrifuges, increasing its count of the operating machines by more than 40 percent, the country's departing president said earlier this week.

"Twelve thousand centrifuge machines are now running in our nuclear sites and 5,000 new centrifuges are ready to start operation,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Sunday in televised remarks quoted by the Tehran Times.

The Persian Gulf power's refinement of uranium has been at the center of a years-long dispute with foreign powers -- including the United States -- because the process can generate nuclear-weapon fuel. Tehran insists its atomic activities are strictly peaceful.

The fate of new punitive economic legislation targeting Iran appeared unclear on Wednesday, as many of its original backers have since called for delaying action that could undermine possible engagement after Iranian President-elect Hassan Rouhani takes office next week, the New York Times reported.

Floor discussion of the bill is likely to start on Wednesday and a vote could take place on Thursday, said Megan Whittemore, spokeswoman for House Majority Whip Eric Cantor (R-Va.). However, House lawmakers might put off final action until after their summer recess, separate sources said.

Meanwhile, an Iranian diplomat on Wednesday denied media claims that Russian President Vladimir Putin would meet with Rouhani in August, ITAR-Tass reported.

“No meeting of this kind is planned,” Iranian Ambassador Mahmoud Reza Sajjadi said. “The Iranian and Russian presidents are [expected] to meet in September in Bishkek."

Sajjadi said their governments had not conferred on potentially replacing a previously canceled S-300 air-defense shipment to Iran with more sophisticated technology, RIA Novosti reported on Wednesday. U.N. sanctions prompted Moscow to cancel an earlier S-300 delivery, which experts had suggested might guard Iranian atomic assets against potential airstrikes.

NTI Analysis

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Country Profile

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Iran

This article provides an overview of Iran's historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.

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