MOSCOW, Oct 27 (Reuters) Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said today it was premature to speak about Iran being able to produce weapons-grade uranium after Tehran launched a second network of centrifuges, Russian news agencies reported.
''To speak about Iran getting enriched weapons-grade uranium is way too premature,'' Ivanov told reporters, Interfax news agency reported. ''I do not share the concerns about this.'' ''These are empty centrifuges, you can't produce anything with them, so to speak about enriching uranium is premature,'' Ivanov said, Itar-Tass news agency reported.
Iran has started enriching uranium in a second network of centrifuges, Iran's student news agency ISNA reported today, expanding a programme the West fears is intended to make nuclear bombs.
''I know what is being talked about: Iran has launched the second cascade of centrifuges which are under the full control of the IAEA (International Atom Energy Agency),'' Ivanov said, Interfax reported.
Russia, a veto-wielding permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, has expressed misgivings about a European draft resolution to impose sanctions on Iran.
The resolution is a response to UN demands Tehran suspend its uranium-enrichment activities.
Iran says its has a right to nuclear energy and that its programme is solely for energy production.
REUTERS PB HT2110