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UN Nuclear Chief Insists Iran Uranium Enrichment Still in Early Stages


The head of the U.N. nuclear agency says Iran is still in the early stages of building a large uranium enrichment facility.

In recent days Iranian officials have said their country has an "industrial" uranium enrichment program that uses 3,000 centrifuges to produce nuclear fuel.

Mohamed ElBaradei said Thursday that only hundreds of the centrifuges have been installed. However, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency or IAEA said Iran is working toward its goal of installing 50,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear facility.

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency plan to visit Natanz in the coming days.

An Iranian nuclear official, Deputy head of Iran Atomic Energy Organization for international affairs Mohammad Sa'idi appeared on state television Thursday and denounced the IAEA for disclosing what he called confidential information. But the official insisted IAEA inspectors will confirm the accuracy of Iran's enrichment claims.

The U.N. Security Council has demanded that Iran stop the process of uranium enrichment, which can be used to make nuclear weapons.

The United States and its allies accuse Iran of trying to develop atomic weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is for the peaceful production of energy.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.