Iran tries to ease worries over missile test
Los Angeles Times / Ramin Mostaghim

Reporting from Tehran - A top Iranian nuclear official sought Friday to ease international worries about his nation's nuclear program days after Tehran test-fired an upgraded medium-range missile that alarmed the West.

Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the country's Atomic Energy Organization, said Iran won't have a new generation of more efficient centrifuges for the production of nuclear fuel until 2011 and won't have its heavy-water plant in Arak operational for "three or four years."

His statement was a possible attempt at reassuring world powers that there was no hurry to place new sanctions on Iran.

"The new generations of our centrifuges are undergoing the necessary tests in view of enriching uranium," he said, according to the Fars News Agency. "We are not hurrying at all for entering the phase of industrial-scale production of fuel."

He said about 6,000 of Iran's centrifuges were operational. The International Atomic Energy Agency, the nuclear monitoring arm of the United Nations, in its last report said that about half of Iran's 8,000 centrifuges were enriching uranium.

Iran has struggled to master advanced nuclear technology. The new IR-3 and IR-4 centrifuges can theoretically boost Iran's nuclear capabilities by more efficiently and quickly teasing out key isotopes, suitable for civilian energy production or bomb manufacturing, from raw uranium. Salehi said Iran hoped it could begin operating the new c... >>>

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