Iran will independently enrich uranium to levels beyond what is needed for basic power generation if talks in Vienna on a plan to process the country's nuclear fuel abroad fail, the spokesman of the Iranian Atomic Organisation stressed on Monday.
Ali Shirzadian spoke in Tehran ahead of Monday's multilateral meeting at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on a deal to export most of Iran's enriched uranium to Russia and France, in order to enrich it to a higher level so it can be used in a medical-purpose reactor in Tehran.
Western diplomats have called the scheme an important confidence-building measure that would help push along wider-ranging nuclear talks with Iran that are planned before the end of the month.
The spokesman made it clear that, despite the planned deal, Iran would not suspend its enrichment plant at Natanz, the official news agency IRNA reported.
Western countries have agreed to negotiate with Iran even though it has not fulfilled the UN Security Council's demand to halt uranium enrichment.
Low-enriched uranium currently produced in Natanz can be used to fuel nuclear power reactors. At increasing levels of enrichment, it can be used for medical reactors or atomic weapons.
The Vienna talks involve officials from Iran, Russia, France, the US and the IAEA, and they follow up on a general agreement on the fuel export-import scheme agreed to by Iran and world powers in Geneva Oct 1.