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Reaction To Iran's Nuclear Plant

The announcement by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that Iran has started installing new centrifuges that would dramatically increase Iran’s capacity to produce enriched uranium is being greeted with concern by the international community.

Gregory Schulte, the U.S. representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that Iran’s announcement “reflects the Iranian leadership’s continuing violation of international obligations and refusal to address international concerns.”

The United Nations Security Council has imposed three sets of sanctions against Iran for its refusal to suspend all uranium enrichment-related, reprocessing, and heavy water-related activities. These activities can contribute to the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Iran’s enrichment effort is “dangerous.”

A spokesman for Britain’s Foreign Office said that Iran “has not only failed to suspend enrichment, but has chosen to ignore the will of the international community by announcing the installation of new centrifuges.” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier expressed “deep concern,” and said, “Tehran’s move is clearly against the demands of the UN Security Council” and makes “the solution to the conflict more difficult.”

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said it is important to remember that the Security Council resolutions on Iran have the force of international law:

"They are having an effect on Iran in terms of the economy and opportunity costs for the Iranian economy . . . .Now, certainly, we don’t want to cause any harm or hardship to the Iranian people. That is not our intention. It’s not the intention of the international community. But they have a government that is making these choices on their behalf, and the choices that the government is making for Iran and the Iranian people is costing the Iranian people.”

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the U.S. will continue to pursue diplomatic efforts to try to induce Iran to change its course.