TEHRAN - Iran will "suspend" uranium enrichment but will never agree to a total halt, Iran's foreign ministry said Monday after a crucial deal on easing nuclear concerns was struck with Britain, France and Germany.
"We stayed within our red lines, and this red line meant we could suspend enrichment but not stop it," foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told reporters.
Faced with the threat of being referred to the UN Security Council over its nuclear activities, Iran agreed late Sunday to suspend its controversial uranium enrichment-related activities in a deal with the three European Union states.
"In the text, we insisted on the fact that the suspension is a voluntary decision and not a legal obligation," Asefi asserted. "Iran's acceptance is political."
"This is an important change. In the past, the Europeans insisted on Iran stopping its enrichment programme, but the question now is how Iran can continue its programme without worrying other countries."
He said the accord "recognises the right of Iran to master nuclear technology."
While Iran insists it only wants to make fuel for a nuclear reactor to generate electricity, there are fears that once the fuel cycle has been mastered the Islamic republic could choose to enrich its uranium to weapons-grade levels.
Iran has consistently refused to halt its fuel cycle work, saying such activities for peaceful purposes are the right of any signatory of the NPT.