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Ahmadinejad: Iran Reaches Target of 3,000 Operational Centrifuges

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says his country has reached a key nuclear target of operating 3,000 centrifuges for enriching uranium.

Mr. Ahmadinejad spoke Wednesday at a public rally in the eastern Iranian city of Birjand.

Iran has said previously that it successfully installed the thousands of centrifuges at its nuclear facility in Natanz. Wednesday's announcement is the first official statement that the centrifuges are fully functioning.

Western experts say 3,000 centrifuges operating in ideal conditions could possibly make enough enriched uranium for an atomic bomb in about a year. The United States and other Western nations accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Tehran denies.

Speaking Tuesday in Washington, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the idea of nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran's current leaders is unacceptable to his country.

Iranian state media quote Mr. Ahmadinejad as saying Iran will continue what he calls "its peaceful nuclear activities" under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency. He was quoted making the comment Tuesday in talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Tehran.

Six world powers have agreed to move forward later this month on a third set of sanctions against Iran if it does not resolve the IAEA's concerns about its sensitive nuclear work.

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