Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Russia, Iran Voice Skepticism Over Iran Nuclear Claims

UPDATE: Check out the new blog covering the Mid East: Outsider On The Inside

Follow up on the story posted earlier about Iran's announcement that they have a reached a stage of industrial nuclear development; Russia and France say that claim is unlikely:

MOSKOW - Russia voiced skepticism today about Iran's announcement of a dramatic expansion of its uranium enrichment program, saying it had yet to receive confirmation of the claim from the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog. France and Australia also questioned Iran's claim of acquiring an industrial-scale nuclear fuel production capability.

Islamic Republic News Agency reported. An official of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization confirmed their arrival, and said the visit was "routine." The official spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Iran said Monday it has begun operating 3,000 centrifuges — nearly 10 times the previously known number — in defiance of U.N. demands that it halt its nuclear program or face increased sanctions. The United States, Britain, France and others criticized the announcement.

Russia was unaware, however, of "any recent technological breakthroughs in the Iranian nuclear program that would change the format of its enrichment effort," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said in a statement. The Russian government helped built Iran's only nuclear reactor and knows its nuclear program well.

Some analysis on this announcement from the Independent, and the ensuing confrontation with the United States.

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