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".