Iran ends UN inspections, resumes enrichment
A defiant Iran on Sunday ended snap UN checks of its nuclear sites and said it was resuming uranium enrichment, a day after being reported to the Security Council over suspicions it is building nuclear weapons.india Updated: Feb 06, 2006 02:16 IST
A defiant Iran on Sunday ended snap UN checks of its nuclear sites and said it was resuming uranium enrichment, a day after being reported to the Security Council over suspicions it is building nuclear weapons.
Diplomats warned the response could heighten the dispute over the nuclear ambitions of the world's fourth biggest oil exporter. Tehran insists it needs nuclear technology only to generate electricity.
"Iran has stopped all voluntary measures that it undertook in the past two-and-a-half to three years," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told a news conference. "We have no commitment to the Additional Protocol any more."
"We had two clear options. One was to decide to abandon our nuclear rights, the other to preserve our rights. We chose resistance," Mottaki added.
Iran's main measure was the suspension of uranium enrichment. If enriched to a low level, uranium can be used in power stations. If enriched further to weapons-grade, it can be used in nuclear warheads.
Iran signed the Additional Protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003, thereby allowing short-notice inspections of its atomic sites.
Divided Security Council
The International Atomic Energy Agency voted on Saturday to report Iran to the Security Council but the top UN body will take no action until an IAEA report is delivered in March.
The Security Council has the power to impose political and economic sanctions but there are divisions among its five permanent members - the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China - about how to deal with Tehran.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said on Sunday he doubted sanctions would have much effect. Russia is helping build Iran's only nuclear power station and Russia's LUKOIL is investing in an Iranian oilfield. China gets 12 per cent of its oil imports from the Islamic Republic.
He urged Iran to answer a series of IAEA questions within weeks to help allay Western suspicions.
European diplomats said the questions related to Iran's attempts to acquire technology that could be used either in a civilian nuclear energy programme or to develop atomic weapons.