Ali SafaviAssociated Press, BRUSSELS, Belgium, September 13 _ An exiled Iranian opposition group said Tuesday it had information that Iran would soon start its nuclear uranium enrichment program and called for further U.N. inspections into allegations that Tehran was smuggling material from China.

Ali Safavi, from the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, said Tehran was building the first phase of 5,000 centrifuges to extract bomb-grade uranium.

Ali Safavi at Brussels ConferenceAssociated Press, BRUSSELS, Belgium, September 13 _ An exiled Iranian opposition group said Tuesday it had information that Iran would soon start its nuclear uranium enrichment program and called for further U.N. inspections into allegations that Tehran was smuggling material from China.

Ali Safavi, from the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, said Tehran was building the first phase of 5,000 centrifuges to extract bomb-grade uranium.

``The first phase involves the manufacture of 5,000 machines. Some two-thirds have been manufactured, tested and ready to be installed,'' Safavi told reporters. He did not indicate the source of his information.

The NCRI has long been critical of European Union talks to convince Iran not to build nuclear weapons. The EU and the United States list the NCRI's largest member group, the People's Mujahedeen, also known as MEK, as a terrorist organization.

The United States accuses Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to secretly produce atomic bombs. Iran rejects those charges.

Safavi claimed Iran plans to make 50,000 centrifuges. ``They have managed to smuggle centrifuges from China, to Dubai, to Tehran ... in the last two years.''

He said the NCRI was also demanding the U.N. send inspectors to Iran to see the centrifuges for themselves. Safavi claimed the Iranian government was hiding the machines at various sites across the country.

The NCRI insists that negotiations by Britain, France and Germany with Iran have failed and is calling for the matter to be taken to the United Nation's Security Council.

``The Iranian Resistance emphatically calls on the U.N. Security Council to adopt specific punishments against the clerical regime, particularly a comprehensive oil embargo,'' said Safavi. ``The Tehran regime must not be allowed to use its oil revenues to fund its secret and dangerous nuclear projects.''

The head of Iran's nuclear program said in Moscow on Monday that his country will not drop its uranium enrichment program. The official said the new Iranian government was open to more negotiations between Tehran and the three EU countries and any others who wanted to join
them.

The EU nations say they may help draft the language of a resolution demanding Iran be referred to the Security Council if it doesn't stop uranium conversion by Sept. 19, when the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency board meets in Vienna.

Last month, Iran restarted uranium conversion, an early stage of the nuclear fuel cycle that precedes enrichment. Highly enriched uranium can be used to make weapons. At lower levels, it is used in power generation.

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