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Iran Says It Plans to Resume Some Suspended Nuclear Activities

The government was criticized last week by a U.N. nuclear agency. It accuses European countries of not holding up their end of a deal.

June 20, 2004|From Associated Press

TEHRAN — Iran will resume some nuclear activities it suspended under international pressure and is considering restarting uranium enrichment, its top nuclear official said Saturday, defying the U.N. nuclear watchdog, which rebuked Iran last week for past cover-ups in its nuclear program.

The government also rejected demands by the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency to stop building a heavy-water nuclear reactor and to halt operations at a nuclear conversion facility in central Iran.

"Iran will reconsider its decision about suspension and will do some uranium activity in the coming days," said Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rowhani.

Rowhani did not say what activities would be resumed. Most controversial among the suspended activities was the building of parts for centrifuges used in the enrichment process.

Resuming uranium enrichment could spark a crisis in international attempts to resolve questions about Iran's nuclear program. The United States accuses Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons, but Tehran insists its program is peaceful, intended only to produce energy.

The IAEA on Friday passed a resolution rebuking Iran for not cooperating enough in the investigation into its nuclear program.

The European-drafted resolution said the IAEA "deplores" that "Iran's cooperation has not been as full, timely and proactive as it should have been" -- angering Tehran.

Rowhani said Iran would continue to work with the IAEA and allow inspections of its facilities.

"If they [the IAEA] have any ambiguities, problems or want to visit sites, they can raise it with us and we will solve it," he said. "We won't lose our patience toward inspections. The more they inspect, the more the world will learn Iran has not diverted from a peaceful nuclear path."

He said Iran would inform the agency of any resumption of activities.

"Whether we are going to resume enrichment -- meaning injecting gas into centrifuges -- we haven't decided yet," he said. "Perhaps we will continue suspension of injecting gas into centrifuges for some time, but we will end suspension of some other measures in the coming days."

Last year, under IAEA pressure, Iran suspended enrichment and some other activities and opened facilities to inspections. In return, Britain, Germany and France promised to make it easier for Iran to obtain advanced nuclear technology.

Rowhani accused those countries of breaking what he said was their promise to help close the Iranian nuclear issue at the IAEA.

In February, according to Rowhani, the three European powers promised to work toward closure by June if Iran stopped making centrifuges, as it did in April.

"The promise was broken by the Europeans. Therefore, we can't be committed to our promise," he said.

A top lawmaker said Saturday that the Iranian parliament may not approve unfettered IAEA inspection of facilities.

"IAEA's continued negative stance ... would give the parliament extra reason not to approve the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty," the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted the head of the parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Committee, Alaeddin Boroujerdi, as saying.

Under the protocol, Iran has to agree to unfettered inspection of its nuclear facilities. Iran's government has approved the measure, but it cannot become law without parliament's approval.

The IAEA said Iran still needs to answer questions relating to the sources of enriched uranium, including weapons-grade samples, found in Iran and the scope of Iran's centrifuge program.

The IAEA also has questioned work at the Iranian nuclear plants at Arak and Isfahan.

"Iran has already made its decision about Isfahan and Arak, and the work will continue," Rowhani said.

Iran is building a heavy-water reactor at Arak, and its plant at Isfahan, which has already been opened, has a nuclear conversion facility to process yellow cake uranium into gas.

Rowhani dismissed accusations that Iran had been using and then razing parts of an undisclosed site next to a military complex in a Tehran suburb.

"Excluding from the sites we have openly declared [to the IAEA]

He was referring to satellite photos that showed several buildings had been destroyed and topsoil had been removed from a site at Lavizan Shiyan and U.S. accusations that Iran was running a secret enrichment program there.

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