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. Iran reaches key nuke target: Ahmadinejad
TEHRAN, Nov 7 (AFP) Nov 07, 2007
Iran has built a landmark 3,000 centrifuges for uranium enrichment, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announced on Wednesday, despite international pressure to halt its atomic work.

"We have now reached 3,000 machines," Ahmadinejad told a rally in the northeastern city of Birjand.

Scientists say that in ideal conditions 3,000 centrifuges can make enough highly enriched uranium in a year's time for an atom bomb.

Israel and its chief ally the United States charge that Tehran is using its civilian nuclear programme as a cover to develop atomic weapons -- claims that Tehran flatly denies.

The United States has never ruled out military action against Tehran, with President George W. Bush raising the prospect of "nuclear holocaust" and "World War III" if Iran acquires atomic weapons.

A defiant Iran last Saturday vowed it would not give up uranium enrichment, a day after six world powers in London agreed to push towards a third round of UN sanctions if the nuclear stand-off persisted.

The "E3" of Britain, France and Germany, plus the United States, Russia and China, backed the drive for a third UN Security Council resolution and vote on Iran, unless upcoming reports showed "a positive outcome".

Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) agreed on a timetable in August for Tehran to provide answers to outstanding questions over its nuclear programme.

The IAEA has been probing Iran's programme for the past four years but has so far failed to conclude whether it is peaceful or not.

The Security Council has passed two rounds of sanctions to force Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, which can be used to supply the fuel for power generation or for nuclear arms.

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