By PENNY CAMPBELL
IRAN Days after the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) approved a resolution demanding that Iran suspend all uranium-enrichment activities, a defiant Tehran announced that it had started the conversion of some 37 tons of uranium oxide (yellowcake) into UF6-gas the feed material for enriched uranium. Iran denies its enrichment efforts are part of a weapons program, claiming they are for electricity generation, which the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) permits. A senior official at Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Hossein Mousavian, argued that " Iran cannot be subjected only to the limitations of the treaty and be deprived of its privileges." President Mohammed Khatami even hinted that if its hand is forced, Iran might leave the NPT.
Meanwhile, Israel agreed to buy 500 so-called bunker-busters from the U.S., which Israeli security sources said could be used against an underground Iranian nuclear facility. Tehran said it would react "most severely" to any Israeli strikes. Unless Iran makes progress in meeting IAEA requirements, its case could land at the U.N. Security Council following an IAEA meeting on Nov. 25. But such a move might not result in the imposition of sanctions. Even countries in favor of a Security Council referral agree that an isolated Tehran might simply end cooperation with U.N. inspections altogether. A U.S. State Department official said that the Security Council would likely only require Iran to suspend its enrichment activities, much as the IAEA has already done, but with a little more clout. By Andrew Purvis and Nahid Siamdoust