AP: Iran has kept enriching uranium despite the threat of U.N. sanctions and a looming deadline to freeze such operations, U.N. and European officials said Wednesday. Associated Press
By GEORGE JAHN
Associated Press Writer
VIENNA, Austria (AP) – Iran has kept enriching uranium despite the threat of U.N. sanctions and a looming deadline to freeze such operations, U.N. and European officials said Wednesday.
The officials said Iran had continued to enrich uranium until at least Tuesday.
Its ongoing enrichment could act as a trigger for action by the U.N. Security Council, which had set Thursday as the final day for Tehran to freeze such activity.
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the information was confidential, said Iran had also snubbed overtures from world powers for a new meeting on its nuclear program.
Iranian defiance on enrichment will be detailed in a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency due Thursday.
Immediate sanctions are unlikely, as permanent council members Russia and China are expected to resist U.S.-led efforts for a quick response.
A senior European official said Tehran has not responded to a recent European Union offer, on behalf of the five Security Council members plus Germany, to discuss Tehran’s terms for new nuclear talks. The further sign of Iran’s willingness to confront the international community is likely to fuel Washington’s push for swift economic sanctions,
Inspectors for the Vienna-based IAEA remained in Iran Wednesday as they continued gathering information that will go into Thursday’s non-public report. While their most recent findings were not available Wednesday afternoon, a senior U.N. official said that Iranian centrifuges were enriching small quantities of uranium gas as late as Tuesday.
Enriched uranium can be used in civilian nuclear reactions or, at greater purity, as fissile material for an atomic warhead.
Iran insists it has a right to enrich uranium for what it says is a future nuclear power program. There is increasing concern, however, that Tehran is seeking to become a nuclear-armed state.
The United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany offered Iran a package of technological and political incentives June 1 in exchange for Tehran’s commitment to freeze enrichment before talks began.
Tehran responded Aug. 21 in what heads of governments and senior diplomats have characterized as an inadequate counteroffer that will be rejected. The response makes no mention of any willingness to suspend enrichment before talks, let alone a long-term moratorium on such activity.