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'Sanctions may slow down N-work'

Newly-imposed sanctions "may slow down" Tehran's nuclear drive, including its sensitive uranium enrichment work, but will not halt the programme, atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi said today.

world Updated: Jul 07, 2010 18:02 IST

Newly-imposed sanctions "may slow down" Tehran's nuclear drive, including its sensitive uranium enrichment work, but will not halt the programme, atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi said on Wednesday.

Salehi's comments marked the first time a top Iranian official has acknowledged the impact of the new sanctions imposed on June 9.

"One can't say sanctions are ineffective,"

ISNA news agency quoted Salehi, who supervises Iran's nuclear programme, as saying at a press conference in the southern port city of Bushehr.

"If sanctions are aimed at preventing Iran's nuclear activities... we say they may slow down the work, but will not stop the activities. This is a certainty."

Salehi, who is also one of the several vice presidents in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government, said the sanctions would not affect nuclear plants such as the one being built in Bushehr, but could impact the uranium enrichment programme by making it difficult to procure certain equipment.

"The Bushehr site is not (affected) by the sanctions and Russian officials have repeatedly maintained that the sanctions are not targetting Bushehr," he said.

"But in the issue of enrichment, we may face problems with some equipment such as measuring instruments," he said.

Salehi, however, expressed confidence that Iran would be able to make such equipment locally.

"As we have manufactured several pieces of equipment ourselves, if we face a problem over this equipment (related to enrichment work) we will manufacture it," he said.

The UN Security Council imposed on June 9 a fourth set of sanctions on Iran for its defiant pursuance of its nuclear programme.

Since the UN measures were adopted, the US and European Union have slapped their own unilateral sanctions on Iran.