Sunday, July 31, 2005

Iran Says Ready to Restart Nuclear Work Monday

Parisa Hafezi, Reuters:
Iran said it would restart some nuclear activities on Monday unless it receives European Union proposals on Sunday to break a diplomatic impasse. The EU is due to offer Iran some economic and political incentives in return for an indefinite suspension of uranium enrichment, nuclear fuel reprocessing and related activities.

If Iran does not comply, the EU has threatened to back calls by the United States for the Islamic Republic to be reported to the United Nations Security Council and face possible sanctions. READ MORE

"If we do not receive the EU proposal today, tomorrow morning we will start part of activities in Isfahan's uranium conversion facility," Ali Aghamohammadi, spokesman for the Supreme National Security Council, told state television.

"This will be under the supervision of U.N. inspectors," he added.

A conversion plant near the central city of Isfahan takes processed uranium ore, mined in Iran's central desert, and turns it into uranium hexafluoride gas. This gas can be pumped into centrifuges that spin at supersonic speed to enrich uranium.

Enriched uranium is used in nuclear power plants, but if highly enriched can be used in atomic weaponry.


The EU and the United States suspect Iran's nuclear programme is a veil for efforts to build a nuclear bomb. Tehran insists it only wants nuclear power to generate electricity.

Iran set a deadline of 1230 GMT on Sunday for the EU to submit its package of incentives, but said it would continue talks with the bloc and would not resume uranium enrichment.

Iran has said the parties originally agreed on an August 1 deadline for submission of the proposals, but the EU's so-called "Big Three" -- Britain, France and Germany -- had asked for this to be extended by six days. Tehran said it rejected any delay.

It was not clear whether Iran, which says its nuclear programme is only for power generation, was using a tough stance over a matter of a few days to put pressure on the EU.

Diplomats in the EU's "Big Three" countries said they were not aware the bloc had committed itself firmly to August 1.

They said there had been an agreement at talks with Iran in Geneva last May that the EU would submit proposals by the end of July or "early August".

Waiting until August 7 would allow the EU to present its offer after the inauguration of Iran's new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on August 6.

Regardless of the date, diplomats have expressed little optimism a deal can be done.

Analysts are uncertain what effect a new president will have on the dispute over Iran's nuclear programme but suggest negotiators take their orders directly from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, bypassing the government.