Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says his nation now has as many as 6,000 uranium enriching centrifuges, a significant increase from earlier in the year.

Iranian state media Saturday, reported the president made the announcement to professors in the northeastern city of Mashhad.  During his speech, Mr. Ahmadinejad asserted the U.S. and other Western countries had retreated in their demands and had now accepted that Iran would continue its uranium enrichment with its current 6,000 centrifuges.

Iran had been known to be operating 3500 uranium-enriching centrifuges at its main nuclear site in Natanz. 

In April, President Ahmadinejad announced plans to install 6,000 new centrifuges, which could significantly boost Iran's ability to enrich uranium.  Highly enriched uranium can be used in nuclear weapons, but Iran says its nuclear program is to generate electricity.

The U.N. Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions on Iran for refusing to suspend uranium enrichment.

On Friday, senior Iranian cleric and former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said a deadline will not help in nuclear talks with Iran, and urged the West to give negotiations a chance.

His comments were in response to a U.S. warning that time is running out for Iran to respond to proposals by the European Union and the U.N. Security Council to resolve the nuclear standoff.

Germany and the five permanent members of the Security Council: Britain, France, Russia, China and the United States, gave Iran two weeks to respond to an incentives package discussed last Saturday at talks in Geneva - or risk another round of sanctions.


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