Sunday, August 01, 2004

Iran Resumes Nuclear Programme

"PA" News,Sat,31 Jul 2004:

Iran confirmed today it has resumed building nuclear centrifuges, saying it was retaliating for the failure of Britain, France and Germany to get its file closed at the UN nuclear watchdog.

The announcement by foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi hardened the lines between Iran and the US, which has been pushing to take Iran’s nuclear programme to the UN Security Council.

Mr Kharrazi told a press conference that Iran has not resumed enriching uranium, but it was manufacturing centrifuges in response to the failure of Britain, Germany and France to help close Iran’s dossier at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in June.

“We still continue suspension on uranium enrichment, meaning that we have not resumed enrichment,” he said. “But we are not committed to another agreement with them (Britain, Germany and France) on not to build centrifuges.”

Diplomats said this week that Tehran had resumed building equipment used to make uranium hexaflouride which – when processed in centrifuges – can be enriched to low levels for power generation or high levels for nuclear weapons.

In talks under way in Paris, officials from Iran and the European powers are seeking to reach a consensus on Tehran’s nuclear programme.

Washington strongly suspects Iran is using a civilian nuclear programme as a cover for a secret nuclear weapons project. It has been lobbying for the IAEA to refer Iran’s nuclear dossier to the UN Security Council, which could impose sanctions.

The talks in Paris prepare the ground for a September meeting of the board of governors of the IAEA, which is expected to discuss Iran’s programme.

Mr Kharrazi said the talks were designed to instil confidence that Iran is not seeking to make a nuclear bomb.

“We are holding these talks to reach further understanding and create more confidence in the direction that we are not seeking nuclear weapons,” he said. “At the same time, we will insist on our legitimate rights.”

Hard-liners have urged the government to defy the IAEA, expel UN inspectors and resume uranium enrichment. The government, though, has taken a more moderate approach in the hope of avoiding international isolation.

Iran maintains that its nuclear programme is entirely for the peaceful production of nuclear energy.

Iran suspended actual uranium enrichment last year under international pressure. In return, Britain, Germany and France promised to make it easier for Iran to obtain advanced nuclear technology.



Post a Comment

<< Home