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U.S. Dismisses Iran's Uranium Enrichment Claims

The Obama administration Thursday dismissed Iranian claims of enriching uranium at a higher level, possibly high enough to make a nuclear weapon, and said it does not believe that Islamic Republic had the know-how to enrich uranium at the level it claims it can.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Thursday statement is based on politics, not physics.

"He says many things and many of them turn out to be untrue. We do not believe they have the capability to enrich [uranium] to the degree to which they now say they are enriching," he said.

Gibbs criticized Iran for rejecting an offer brokered by the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), last year to ship out 75 per cent of its low-enriched uranium stocks--at a purity of 3.5 per cent--to Russia and then to France, in return for an equivalent quantity of 20 per cent enriched uranium in the form of French-made fuel rods to be used at a Tehran research reactor to produce medical isotopes.

"Not taking the IAEA up and its partners up on a very commonsense offer, leads, quite frankly, the world to believe that Iran has other ideas," he said.

Gibbs said that rejection of the west's offer, along with Iran's recent statements and actions, compels the United States and other nations to pursue stronger sanctions.

Iran Is A "Nuclear State"

President Ahmadinejad of Iran declared Thursday his country a "nuclear state", and claimed it had produced a "first stock" of 20 per cent-enriched uranium for its nuclear program, and was capable of enriching it to 80 per cent, but would not do so.

Addressing a mammoth gathering of cheering fellow-Iranians in Tehran on the the 31st anniversary of the founding of the Islamic Republic, he said Iran would soon treble its production of 20 per cent-enriched uranium, needed for producing medical isotopes to treat cancer patients.

He added that Iran had developed the capacity to enrich uranium up to 80 per cent, but "we don't enrich (it to this level) because we don't need it."

It was not clear how much enriched uranium was actually produced just two days after the process was announced to have started. But the West believes Tehran is not capable of turning the material into the fuel rods needed by the research reactor at Natanz. Instead, it suspects that Iran wants to enrich the uranium to make nuclear weapons, a charge that Iran continues to deny.

Ahmadinejad insisted that Iran had no intention of building nuclear weapons, while adding that it would not be bullied by the West into curtailing its nuclear program.

The renewed rhetoric from the hard-line Iranian leader came a day after the U.S. imposed fresh sanctions against the elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Sanctions were imposed against four subsidiaries of a construction company owned by General Rostam Qasemi, head of Khatam al-Anbiya Construction Headquarters, including the IRGC's engineering wing.

by RTT Staff Writer

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