Iran Says to Review Uranium Enrichment Suspension
June 19, 2004
TEHRAN -- Iran said Saturday it would review its suspension of uranium enrichment after a tough U.N. resolution sharply rebuked Tehran for not cooperating fully with nuclear inspections.
Enrichment, a process of purifying uranium for nuclear power plants, can also be used to make atomic weapons. Any resumption would provoke a major crisis.
Hassan Rohani, secretary-general of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said Iran would probably not resume enrichment for the moment, but might start building parts for enrichment centrifuges.
The United States says Iran's nuclear program is a front for building an atomic weapon, but Iran insists its ambitions are limited to generating electricity.
It agreed to suspend uranium enrichment last year after a visit to Tehran by foreign ministers from the so-called "EU big three" of Britain, France and Germany.
"Iran will review its decision regarding suspension and we will announce our decision in the coming days," Rohani told a news conference.
However, he cautioned such a resumption would probably not mean pumping uranium hexafluoride gas into centrifuges which spin at high speed to produce enriched uranium.
"I should underline that our decision might not be resuming enrichment itself, it might be other activities such as building parts....Probably we will continue not to inject gas into centrifuges for a while," he added.
A spokeswoman for the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), declined comment on Rohani's statements.
Mid-ranking cleric Rohani said Tehran's decision was prompted by the three European powers reneging on what he described as their commitment to have Iran's case closed at the board level of the IAEA by June.
Rohani said Iran had no secret uranium enrichment sites and the country would continue cooperation with the watchdog.
"I am saying openly that Iran, apart from the sites it has openly declared ... has no other places for enriching uranium," he said.
He dismissed accusations Iran had an undisclosed site in north Tehran, as Washington alleges from satellite photographs.
A U.N. resolution said Friday it "deplored" Iran's failure to cooperate fully with IAEA inspectors.
The IAEA has been probing Iran since August 2002 and has pushed it to be fully open with U.N. inspectors as they struggle to reduce the spread of weapons of mass destruction in an increasingly unstable Middle East.
Iran backs away from threat to resume uranium enrichment
Sat Jun 19,11:40 AM ET Add World - AFP to My Yahoo!
TEHRAN (AFP) - Iran's top national security official backed off from his earlier threat to resume uranium enrichment, saying the Islamic republic had no intention of doing so "for the time being".
"We do not want to carry out enrichment for the time being and no decision has yet been taken to resume it, but we will reconsider the suspension of other activities," Hassan Rowhani told the official IRNA news agency.
The new comments were a revision of Rowhani's statement to the foreign and local press earlier Saturday, in which he had said: "In the next few days, Iran is going to reconsider its decision to suspend enrichment."
The suspension of uranium enrichment is a key demand of the UN nuclear watchdog -- the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) -- while it continues to investigate allegations that Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons.
The official news agency said Rowhani's new comments meant that "Iran will apparently resume the production of centrifuge components" rather than resume enrichment itself.
IRNA did not explain Rowhani's changed stance, although the revision of public statements from top officials is common practice here and often leads to confusion.
Suspending uranium enrichment was part of a package of "confidence-building measures" brokered last October by Britain, France and Germany, which also included Iran allowing tougher inspections by signing the additional protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Although enrichment is permitted under the NPT, the IAEA had called for Iran to cease such activities while it sought to account for traces of highly enriched uranium found by inspectors here and complete its evaluation of the Iranian programme.
Rowhani had earlier complained that the European Union (news - web sites)'s "big three" had failed to keep their side of the bargain by seeing that pressure on Iran is eased, and had instead pushed through a critical resolution at the IAEA on Friday.
In his latest remarks, Rowhani suggested that Iran and the European states could have fresh talks in July, and he said Iran "will give this chance to them".