President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has launched anniversary celebrations for Iran's Islamic Revolution with a defiant promise to push ahead with the country's controversial nuclear programme.
Ahmadinejad suggested on Thursday that Tehran would next week announce the start of the installation of a new assembly of 3,000 centrifuges in an underground portion of its uranium enrichment facility in Natanz that the US has warned could bring further sanctions against Iran.
The hardline Iranian leader said his government is determined to continue with its nuclear programme, despite the UN Security Council sanctions imposed in December over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment, a process that can be used to produce nuclear fuel or an atomic bomb.
Kicking off 10 days of celebrations to mark the 28th anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution that brought hard-line clerics to power, Ahmadinejad said Iran will celebrate "the stabilisation and the establishment of its full right" to enrich uranium next week at the central Iranian facility.
Ahmadinejad has used "stabilisation" of the programme to refer to bringing Iran's nuclear facilities to a technical level to make it an established fact in the eyes of the world.
The chief of the UN nuclear watchdog agency, Mohammed ElBaradei said last week he expects Iran to announce "they are going to build up their 3,000 centrifuge facility" in February.
There had been speculation at the agency that the announcement could come during the revolution anniversary.