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Iran on Feb. 15 proclaimed advances in nuclear know-how, including new centrifuges able to enrich uranium much faster, a move that may hasten a drift toward confrontation with the West over suspicions it is seeking the means to make atomic bombs. Tehran’s resolve to pursue a nuclear programme showed no sign of wavering despite Western sanctions inflicting increasing damage on its oil-based economy. “The era of bullying nations has past. The arrogant powers cannot monopolize nuclear technology. They tried to prevent us by issuing sanctions and resolutions but failed,” President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a live television broadcast. “Our nuclear path will continue.”
The nuclear achievements proclaimed by Tehran involved a new line of uranium enrichment centrifuge and the loading of its first domestically produced batch of fuel into a research reactor that is expected to soon run out of imported stocks. Iran also has handed a letter to EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton expressing readiness to “hold new talks over its nuclear programme in a constructive way.” The Islamic Republic is the world’s No. 5 oil exporter, with 2.6 million barrels going abroad daily, and the EU consumes around a fifth of those volumes.