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Iran to start enrichment in due course

This comes in response to the nuclear watchdog IAEA's decision to report Tehran to UNSC. What next for Iran?

india Updated: Feb 06, 2006 14:53 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Iran on Sunday said that large-scale uranium enrichment work, the focus of fears it is seeking nuclear weapons, will begin in "due course".

This is in response to the International Atomic Energy Agency's decision to report the clerical regime to the UN Security Council.

"The order from the president lifts the voluntary restrictions and Iran will resume its work," government spokesman Gholam Hossein Elham told reporters, referring to an order from hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

But when asked to specific what specific work had already resumed -- notably ultra-sensitive uranium enrichment -- he replied that "technical issues are the concern of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran".

"They will follow the directive and they will resume their technical work. The Atomic Energy Organisation will give its order in due course," Elham said.

Enrichment is a process that involves feeding uranium gas through cascades of centrifuges.

When purified to low levels the result is reactor fuel, but the process can be extended to make the fissile core of a nuclear bomb.

Iran had agreed to suspend this work as part of a 2003 and 2004 deal with Britain, France and Germany.

The kick-starting of Iran's fuel cycle work is in retaliation to a decision by the International Atomic Energy Agency to report Iran to the UN Security Council, a turning point in the long-running nuclear dispute that exposes Tehran to the threat of sanctions.

The country, which maintains it only wants to generate atomic energy, announced on Sunday that it will also no longer allow reinforced inspections of its nuclear facilities.

"We are now at the end of one phase where the Islamic republic was building trust, going beyond its Non-Proliferation Treaty commitments and cooperating within the framework of the additional protocol," Elham said.

The current crisis was sparked by Iran's decision last August to resume uranium conversion -- which makes the gas fed into centrifuges -- and start laboratory-scale enrichment on January 10.

First Published: Feb 06, 2006 14:53 IST