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No Agreement Made to Halt Nuclear Aspirations of Iran

By Nazila Fathi
and David E. Sanger


A one-day trip to Iran by the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, ended Thursday night with no agreement by the Iranians to halt their production of enriched uranium. And European diplomats said that Iran had shown inspectors evidence that they were preparing to double the size of their small-scale production facilities within weeks.

Before ElBaradei’s arrival, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran issued a taunt meant to erase any doubts about whether Iran was determined to plunge ahead with its fuel-making facilities in defiance of a warning from the United Nations.

“Our answer to those who are angry about Iran obtaining the full nuclear cycle is one phrase. We say: Be angry and die of this anger,” he said late on Wednesday, the official IRNA news agency reported. He left the job of meeting with ElBaradei to lower-ranking officials.

For the first time, Ahmadinejad also boasted that Iran was conducting what he called “research” on a next-generation of centrifuges, called the P-2, based on a Pakistani design.

Until now Iran has rebuffed most questions from the atomic energy agency about what kind of information concerning the advanced centrifuges that it had obtained from the illicit nuclear network run by Abdul Qadeer Khan of Pakistan. Ahmadinejad made no estimate of when the more advanced equipment — which would enrich uranium several times faster than the equipment Iran has just put into operation — might be tested or installed.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, speaking at the State Department on Thursday, said that “when the Security Council reconvenes, there will have to be some consequence” for Iran’s decision to defy the calls for a suspension of fuel production, “and we will look at the full range of options available.” She was not specific, but said she expected the Security Council would “ensure that Iran knows that they really have no choice but to comply.”

During his speech, Ahmadinejad uncharacteristically acknowledged differences inside Iran over the leadership’s decision to confront the West, Russia and China by surging forward with the production of fuel that could be used for nuclear power plants or, at a greater level of enrichment, for nuclear weapons.

“There are some coward elements who are trying to create difference among people,” the student-run ISNA agency quoted him as saying. “They get together, talk and create propaganda and psychological war. But we laugh at them. They call us and say that crisis is on the way, but we believe that the enemy has a crisis and we have no crisis in our country. Our people are brave.”

But in Washington, Iran’s efforts to create the impression that it was speeding ahead to make its nuclear program a fait accompli was countered by intelligence officials, who said the country’s boasts had not altered Washington’s assessment of how close the country was to obtaining a weapon.

At a briefing on Thursday, Thomas Fingar, the deputy director of national intelligence for analysis, said the official view of the intelligence agencies remained that Iran was unlikely to have nuclear weapons before 2010 at the earliest.