Tuesday, February 6, 2007; A12
VIENNA, Feb. 5 -- Shrugging off the threat of tougher U.N. sanctions, Iran has set up more than 300 centrifuges in two uranium enrichment units at its underground Natanz complex, diplomats and officials said Monday.
The move potentially opens the way for larger-scale enrichment that could be used to build nuclear warheads. Iranian leaders have repeatedly said the Natanz facility would house 3,000 centrifuges at first and, ultimately, 54,000 of the machines.
It also poses a direct challenge to the U.N. Security Council, which late last month imposed limited sanctions targeting programs and individuals linked to Tehran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
The uranium enrichment process can be used to fuel nuclear power plants. But at higher levels of enrichment, uranium can be used for the core of nuclear warheads.