Iran now a ‘nuclear state’, says Ahmadinejad
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Last Updated: Thursday, February 11, 2010, 17:47
  
Zeenews Bureau

Tehran: Iran's President has announced that the Islamic republic has produced its first package of highly enriched uranium just two days after beginning the process.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Thursday told hundreds of thousands of cheering Iranians that Iran was now a "nuclear state" and had produced its first batch of 20 percent enriched uranium and could enrich up to 80%.

Iran's all-powerful supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei had earlier this week said he wanted Thursday's celebration to be a show of unity and to deliver a stunning "punch" to "arrogant" powers.

Slamming the West, Ahmadinejad told the rally that his country’s enemies were using the nuclear issue and that of human rights to control the region.

Enriching uranium produces fuel for a nuclear power plants but can also be used to create material for atomic weapons.

Iran had announced on Tuesday it was beginning the process of enriching its uranium stockpile to a higher level.

Ahmadinejad is addressing thousands gathered in a central Tehran square to mark the 31st anniversary of the revolution that created the Islamic republic.

Khomeini's granddaughter briefly arrested

An Iranian Web site says authorities briefly arrested and then released the granddaughter of the architect of the Islamic revolution, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, and her husband.

The report by the pro-reform Rahesabz Web site couldn't be independently confirmed, but the site has been credible in the past.

It says Zahra Eshraghi and her husband Mohammad Reza Khatami, the brother of a former president, were in custody on Thursday for an hour. There were no further details.

Clashes reported

State television showed footage of men, chador-clad women and children carrying banners reading "Death to America, Death to Israel!" crowded into Azadi (Freedom) Square in southwest Tehran to mark the day the US-backed shah was toppled in 1979. Security forces, meanwhile, dispersed nearby anti-government protests.

In the meantime, opposition leader Mehdi Karroubi has reportedly been forced to leave rally after his car came under an attack. According to BBC, reports from the micro-blogging site Twitter and the pro-opposition Jaras website said Karroubi's supporters were assembling in the city's Saddeqiya street.

Jaras also said security forces attacked moderate former president Mohammad Khatami when he attended the rally.

In Azadi Square, massive crowds waved Iranian flags and carried pictures of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic state, and his successor as supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Witnesses said that riot police fired the paint-filled balls after protesters began to chant opposition slogans in Sadeqieh Square, which is about a half-mile (one kilometre) from the huge pro-government gathering.

However, there were no injuries to the protesters.

Anti-government websites and blogs have called for a major turnout and urged marches to display green emblems or clothes — the colour adopted by the anti-government movement since June's disputed Presidential Election.

The opposition leaders have promised to join street rallies, including the Green movement founder and former presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi.


First Published: Thursday, February 11, 2010, 17:47


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