Iranian President Claims Milestone in Nuclear Program

Julie Stahl | Jerusalem Bureau Chief | Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Iranian President Claims Milestone in Nuclear Program

Jerusalem ( - Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says his country "could not care less" about U.N. Security Council resolutions. And to prove the point, on Wednesday Ahmadinejad announced that Iran now has 3,000 centrifuges for enriching uranium.

"Iran has currently 3,000 enrichment centrifuges thanks to its firm resistance," Iranian Press TV quoted Ahmadinejad as saying at a rally in northeastern Iran.

Experts say that 3,000 centrifuges could produce enough enriched uranium in a year to make a nuclear bomb.

Last December, the U.N. Security Council imposed sanctions on Tehran in an attempt to get the country to stop its uranium enrichment program. But Iran has remained defiant.

"The Iranian nation attaches no value to the U.N. Security Council's resolutions which are based on false reports and will not implement them," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

The Israeli security cabinet met on Wednesday to discuss the Iranian issue. State-run radio quoted unnamed security sources as saying that Israel is acting in all areas, including intelligence-gathering, convincing countries to support sanctions and assessing the effectiveness of those sanctions.

On Tuesday, the head of military intelligence, Brig.-General Yossi Baidatz, told Israeli lawmakers that in a "worst-case scenario" Iran could have atomic weapons by 2009.

Israeli Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz, a former Defense Minister, was quoted on Tuesday as saying that Iran's nuclear program "is proceeding like an express train" while diplomatic efforts to stop it are more like a "slow train."

Unless the Iranian train could be derailed, he said, "We are on the verge of a nuclear era that will totally alter the regional reality."

The U.S. and France have been leading the campaign for stricter sanctions against Iran for its refusal to halt its uranium enrichment program, a process used to make either nuclear fuel or material for an atomic bomb.

Israel stepped up a diplomatic campaign last month, aimed at convincing United Nations Security Council members -- particularly Russia and China -- to back tougher sanctions against Iran.

Russia, which is helping the Islamic Republic complete its nuclear reactor, has said there is no proof that Iran is aiming for nuclear weapons.

President Bush warned last month that anyone interested in avoiding World War III should be interested in preventing Iran "from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon."