Iran confirms factory producing centrifuge parts

Iran has long said it produces its own centrifuges for Uranium enrichment.

Updated: Apr 10, 2011, 11:05 AM IST

Tehran: Iran`s foreign minister on Saturday confirmed claims by an exiled Iranian opposition group that a factory west of Tehran is manufacturing centrifuge parts, but said the facility was no secret and that many other factories in the counrty were making components for Iran`s nuclear program.

The comments by Ali Akbar Salehi came two days after the Mujahedeen-e Khalq announced at a press conference in Washington that its spies identified the factory, called the TABA facility, saying workers there produced centrifuge casings, molecular pumps, tubes and bellows for the centrifuges.

Iran has long said it is producing its own centrifuges for its uranium enrichment program. Enrichment can produce either fuel for a nuclear reactor or the material for a nuclear warhead.

Salehi said the factory referred to by the Mujahedeen "is not a new discovery ... we are manufacturing parts there and this is nothing confidential."

"There are plenty of factories in the country that supply the equipment needed by ... the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran," he said Saturday, according to the state news agency IRNA.

Tehran contends its nuclear program is intended only for a civilian nuclear power program. The United States and its allies suspect it seeks the capacity to build nuclear bombs, and the United Nations has demanded Iran halt enrichment.

Bureau Report


News of the World prints phone-hacking apology

London: The News of the World on Sunday publicly apologised to victims of phone hacking, as the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper sought to draw a line under the long-running scandal.

In an apology printed in its latest edition, the paper said it had admitted liability in some cases where it was accused of phone hacking and would do the same for others where people`s claims were justified.

Referring to the victims, the News of the World said: "Here today, we publicly and unreservedly apologise to all such individuals."

"What happened to them should not have happened. It was and remains unacceptable," added the paper, in the piece on page two headlined "Voicemail interception: An apology".

"We hope to be able to pay appropriate compensation to all these individuals, and have asked our lawyers to set up a compensation scheme to deal with genuine claims fairly and efficiently," it added.

The News of the World`s statement on Sunday followed an apology two days earlier from the paper`s owner, News International.

Actress Sienna Miller is believed to be among those offered settlements from the compensation fund which is reportedly worth around £20 million ($33 million, 23 million euros).

But even after the apology and offer of compensation, Miller showed little sign of dropping ongoing legal action against the paper.

Her lawyer Mark Thomson insisted on Saturday the star`s "primary concern is to discover the whole truth and for all those responsible to be held to account."

As well as Miller, former Cabinet minister Tessa Jowell and sports commentator Andy Gray are reported to be among those offered payoffs.

The News of the World`s apology capped a turbulent week for one of the country`s most popular papers, in which the scandal of journalists at the paper illegally accessing phone voicemails to track down stories came to a head.

On Tuesday, the paper`s chief reporter Neville Thurlbeck and a former news editor Ian Edmondson were arrested on suspicion of having unlawfully intercepted mobile phone voicemail messages.

The controversy has dogged the paper -- and Australian-born media mogul Murdoch -- for the past few years.

In 2007, the initial police investigation into phone hacking led to the News of the World`s royal correspondent Clive Goodman and a private investigator being jailed.

It emerged they had hacked into the mobile phone messages of Princes William and Harry to obtain information for use in stories.

The News of the World insisted then that Goodman and investigator Glenn Mulcaire were acting alone.

But a steady stream of fresh allegations and criticism of the original probe prompted London`s Metropolitan Police to reopen their investigation in January.

That move came days after the tabloid`s former editor, Andy Coulson, quit as head of communications for Prime Minister David Cameron.

Coulson had resigned as editor when Goodman was jailed but insisted he knew nothing of the phone hacking. He continues to deny wrongdoing, but said the continuing scandal was distracting him from his job with Cameron.

The fresh controversy comes at an awkward time for Murdoch, as his News Corp. -- the parent group of News International -- is poised to take full control of broadcaster BSkyB in the face of resistance from media rivals.

Bureau Report