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Iran announces nuclear expansion

Jon Leyne
BBC News, Tehran

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
President Ahmadinejad says Iran has the right to process uranium for fuel

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has said Iran now possesses 6,000 centrifuges for enriching uranium - nearly twice the number of only a few months ago.

He has claimed the West has accepted the increase.

Iran is under UN sanctions, with the demand that it suspend the enrichment programme, which the West fears may be used for nuclear bombs

His announcement is likely to be met with a degree of scepticism by the outside world.

The Iranian president has often exaggerated the programme, as a deliberate challenge to the world powers who are trying to restrict Iran's ability to enrich uranium.

This time he went further, claiming the West had agreed to allow Iran to have 5,000 to 6,000 centrifuges.

His comments come just as Iran is considering freezing the nuclear programme at current levels, in return for a freeze on new sanctions.

So perhaps Mr Ahmadinejad is trying to stake a claim to Iran's right to the new higher figure, even if it agrees to a freeze.

Or perhaps it is just more of the tough rhetoric that he has revived, after a few weeks of relative silence on the nuclear issue.

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