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Asia-pacific

Tehran will enrich its own uranium if IAEA fails to provide it, cleric says

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2009-11-28

Senior hardline cleric Ahmad Khatami (pictured) said on Saturday that Iran would enrich its own uranium for a research reactor in Tehran if the UN atomic watchdog failed to make the fuel available.

AFP - Iran will produce its own enriched uranium for a medical research reactor in Tehran if the nuclear fuel is not made available by the UN atomic watchdog, a senior hardline cleric said on Saturday.
   
Ahmad Khatami, speaking at a Tehran University prayer service to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, warned world powers that Iran will not be cowed by threats or swayed by "bribery" to give up its right to nuclear technology.
   
He was responding to a resolution adopted on Friday by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) demanding that Iran halt construction of a new uranium enrichment facility.
   
Uranium enrichment is the process used to make fuel for nuclear power plants, but when extended it can also produce fissile material for an atomic bomb as well as potentially supplying the medical research reactor.
   
Western powers have long suspected that Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb and disclosure in September of the previously secret new plant triggered widespread outrage.
   
Iran vehemently denies that its atomic programme has military aims and insists that it has the right to enrich uranium and make nuclear fuel.
   
Khatami deemed the resolution to be "completely political and not technical in nature," but did not discuss its substance.
   
Addressing the IAEA, he said "it is your obligation, under the law, to provide fuel for the Tehran reactor.
   
"If you did this, the issue would be closed. If you do not cooperate you should know that the nation ... which achieved its rights to technology will also provide fuel for its reactor. It is legal and in accordance with international safeguards."
   
The IAEA had brokered a plan under which Russia would lead a consortium that would enrich uranium for the Tehran reactor.
   
Iran rejected that proposal, which would have involved it shipping low-enriched uranium abroad and receiving a more highly enriched version in exchange.
   
And the agency has rebuffed a counterproposal under which an exchange would take place on Iranian soil.
   
Khatami said: "Islamic Iran has shown to the world over the past 30 years that it will not back down even an inch, whether in regard to its absolute rights or in the face of threats or bribery."
   
He added, without elaborating: "Of course, Iran will have the option to confront you."
   
Hours after the resolution was adopted, the spokesman for Iran's foreign ministry, Ramin Mehmanparast, called it "theatrical and useless."
   
"We do not deem it necessary to fully carry out (our) commitments to the agency if Iran's basic rights as a member of the (nuclear) Non-Proliferation Treaty are not met," he said, without elaborating.
   
Iran has already been enriching uranium for several years at another plant in the central city of Natanz, in defiance of three sets of UN sanctions.
   
In February 2006 the IAEA referred Tehran to the UN Security Council over its refusal to suspend enrichment or to agree to full IAEA inspections.
   
The new resolution will likewise be reported to the UN Security Council.

Date created : 2009-11-28

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