Iran says it has successfully produced enriched uranium. The announcement comes just hours ahead of a crucial inspection visit by the UN Nuclear Watchdog, the IAEA. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad reiterated Iranian claims that their nuclear research programme is for civilian fuel and not for making weapons.“I am officially announcing that Iran has joined the group of those countries which have nuclear technology,” he said. Iran used 164 centrifuges to produce the low-level enriched uranium. Many thousands more would be needed to produce weapons-grade material, experts say. US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld refused to comment on the news, or on claims that the US already has plans for military action against Iran. The head of the UN Nuclear Watchdog the IAEA is due in Tehran in the next few hours. Mohammed El-Baradei will have to report back to the Security Council by the end of the month. If Iran has not halted its enrichment programme by then, there are likely to be calls for sanctions. But there could be opposition from Russia and China. Both have urged for a diplomatic solution to the crisis to be found.
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