Iran Nuclear NewsUranium work to restart ‘in days’

Uranium work to restart ‘in days’

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The Sunday Times: IRAN may resume work on its nuclear programme at Esfahan as early as next week, the country’s top nuclear negotiator was quoted as saying yesterday. Hassan Rohani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, reportedly said it was likely that unspecified nuclear activities related to uranium enrichment would begin again. The Sunday Times

Tom Walker

IRAN may resume work on its nuclear programme at Esfahan as early as next week, the country’s top nuclear negotiator was quoted as saying yesterday.

Hassan Rohani, secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, reportedly said it was likely that unspecified nuclear activities related to uranium enrichment would begin again.

Quoted by the official Islamic Republic News Agency, Rohani said: “It’s unlikely that uranium enrichment . . . which takes place in Natanz will be resumed, but it’s likely that some activities at Esfahan Uranium Conversion Facility will restart next week.”

His comments came after talks in London with British, French and German officials about the future of Iran’s nuclear programme failed to achieve a breakthrough. Iran was pressed in vain for a permanent end to its enrichment activities.

Kamal Kharrazi, the Iranian foreign minister, had said on the eve of the talks that if they failed, “we will have no choice but to restart the uranium enrichment programme”.

However, a senior Foreign Office official said the two sides would reflect on what had been discussed and then continue to negotiate.

The Sunday Times’s disclosure today that Iran has produced three tons of uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas that could be used to enrich uranium for civil nuclear power or an atomic weapon, combined with Rohani’s remarks, caused unease among hawks close to the administration of President George W Bush.

Michael Ledeen, the prominent neo-conservative who has led calls for an attack on Iran, said that he was not surprised to learn about the unannounced production of UF6. “I’ve always had maximum admiration for the Iranians’ ability to deceive us,” he said.

The US State Department said that it was “interested” in the news of the UF6 while Gary Samore, director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London and a leading expert on the Iranian nuclear programme, said Tehran still faced technical difficulties in processing the UF6 into fuel or weapons material.

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