Defying the West, Iran resumes nuclear research

10th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

TEHRAN, Jan 10, 2006 (AFP) - A defiant Iran on Tuesday resumed sensitive nuclear research after a two-year suspension, triggering fierce Western condemnation and heightening the risk of Tehran being hauled before the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

TEHRAN, Jan 10, 2006 (AFP) - A defiant Iran on Tuesday resumed sensitive nuclear research after a two-year suspension, triggering fierce Western condemnation and heightening the risk of Tehran being hauled before the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

"Today, with the authorisation given by the IAEA to its inspectors (to supervise the action) ... seals from a number of research centres were removed," said Mohammad Saidi, deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"As of today these centres resume their activities," Saidi told reporters. "The research will be carried out in all the centres that we told the IAEA about, and we will restart our work."

In Vienna, the IAEA confirmed that Iran removed seals at its Natanz atomic research facility under the supervision of its inspectors.

"The production of nuclear fuel is still in suspension and we hope to reach a conclusion over it in the near future, and also reach a clear agreement with the Europeans in this regard," Saidi said.

Tehran announced last week it would restart research into the nuclear fuel cycle despite international calls to keep the voluntary suspension of such work in place.

Iran's move sparked swift condemnation from the US ambassador to the IAEA, who slammed the Islamic republic's "disdain for international concern".

"Today Iran is taking another deliberate step towards uranium enrichment, the process for creating nuclear bomb material," Gregory Schulte said in a statement.

"By cutting the seals, the Iranian leadership shows its disdain for international concern and its rejection of international diplomacy."

London said it was in close contact with fellow EU negotiators France and Germany and that their foreign ministers would meet "to discuss next steps soon".

"This is a very negative development that will seriously jeopardise the negotiating process," a spokesman for the Foreign Office in London told AFP.

French President Jacques Chirac said Iran — along with fellow nuclear suspect North Korea — "would be committing a serious mistake if they did not take the hand that we are holding out to them".

The United States, which accuses Tehran of seeking to build nuclear weapons, reiterated Monday that Iran may be referred to the Security Council over its action. Russia voiced concern but said dialogue was still the only way forward.

"It is cause for concern that Iran has announced an intention to restart work connected to enrichment of uranium in spite of a moratorium agreed between Iran and European countries," Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was quoted as saying by Interfax.

Russia "will make an effort to ensure that during the period of negotiations the moratorium (on enrichment itself) is maintained," Lavrov added.

Moscow also said its offer to enrich uranium jointly with Iran at a site on Russian territory remained valid. Talks on the compromise proposal are due to resume next month after breaking off at the weekend without agreement.

"We confirmed our proposal, it remains on the negotiating table, and if our Iranian colleagues are interested we are ready to develop a joint plan to resolve the entire Iranian energy issue," Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Kislyak told Interfax.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said Monday he was "losing patience" with what he called Iran's lack of transparency.

The international community has already warned that "the next step would be a referral to the Security Council" if Tehran failed to keep its international obligations, the White House said Monday.

Spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters that Iran must maintain a total suspension of activities linked to uranium enrichment, which produces fuel for nuclear power reactors but can also be used to make atomic bombs.

"The international community has growing concerns about the regime's pursuit of nuclear weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear programme," said McClellan.

Iran has been trying to draw a distinction between research into the fuel cycle and actual production of enriched uranium, which can be used as fuel in civil reactors or, in highly enriched form, as the explosive core of an atom bomb.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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