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. Ahmadinejad says Iran needs 50,000 centrifuges
TEHRAN, Dec 5 (AFP) Dec 05, 2007
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Wednesday that Iran needs to build 50,000 uranium enriching centrifuges for its controversial nuclear programme, the state-run IRNA news agency reported.

"If we want to supply (nuclear) fuel for one year to a power plant, we should have 50,000 centrifuges," Ahmadinejad said in a speech in the western province of Ilam.

In its latest report, the International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed that Iran had reached its medium-term goal of building 3,000 centrifuges at its enrichment facility at Natanz in the centre of the country.

Ahmadinejad's comment follows a report by the US intelligence community saying Iran halted a drive for atomic weapons in 2003 -- despite years of statements by US President George W. Bush accusing Tehran of actively seeking a nuclear bomb.

"Those who have ill intentions toward the Iranian nation's nuclear plan told us if we increased the number of our centrifuges to more than 164, 'we condemn it,'" Ahmadinejad said.

"But we started the industrial production of nuclear fuel."

"If one day we were to shut down the work based on their request, it would not be possible to restart it," he added.

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