Iran Nuclear NewsIran links UN cooperation to atomic fuel rights

Iran links UN cooperation to atomic fuel rights

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Reuters: Iran has told the U.N. nuclear watchdog it will
continue to cooperate with it provided Tehran can enrich uranium, a process that can make fuel for nuclear weapons, a statement obtained by Reuters on Wednesday said. Reuters

By Francois Murphy

VIENNA – Iran has told the U.N. nuclear watchdog it will continue to cooperate with it provided Tehran can enrich uranium, a process that can make fuel for nuclear weapons, a statement obtained by Reuters on Wednesday said.

The statement, circulated to countries at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna this week, reiterated Iran had no reason to continue a suspension of sensitive nuclear work agreed with France, Britain and Germany that Tehran ended last month, prompting an international crisis.

“(Iran) declares that it is determined to continue its full cooperation with the IAEA … provided that Iran is not deprived from its inalienable right for peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including nuclear fuel cycle,” the statement said, referring to enrichment, which can produce fuel for weapons or power plants.

Washington accuses Iran of developing nuclear weapons under the cover of its civilian atomic programme, a suspicion shared by the European Union. Tehran vehemently denies the charge, saying it is only interested in generating electricity.

Last month Iran resumed uranium conversion, the step before enrichment, at a plant that had been mothballed under a November deal with the ‘EU3’. This prompted the IAEA’s board of governors to demand it reinstate the suspension and resume talks with the Europeans aimed at resolving Tehran’s standoff with the West.

The 35-nation IAEA board meets next week, beginning on Monday. The main issue will be a U.S.-EU plan to refer Iran to the Security Council, which could lead to economic sanctions.

The Iranian statement — a reaction to IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei’s report to the board on September 2 which confirmed Iran had resumed conversion and said its full transparency was “overdue” — said Iran had no reason to continue its freeze.

“There is no reason for Iran to sustain its frustrated voluntary suspension of uranium conversion and enrichment as the result of which it would further be deprived from its inalienable right to work on nuclear fuel cycle,” it said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will address the U.N. General Assembly on Saturday, where he is expected to outline a new plan aimed at reviving suspended talks with the EU trio and fending off a Security Council referral next week.

Few details of his plan are known, though EU diplomats said he wanted to expand the EU-Iran talks to include countries like Russia, China, India or South Africa, which oppose U.N. referral and believe Iran should be allowed a full nuclear programme.

But the EU3 have ruled out new talks unless Iran re-freezes work at Isfahan, which Tehran has said was out of the question.

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