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Iran to restart nuke program

CBC News | July 31, 2005

Iran pledged to restart part of its nuclear program on Monday after the European Union missed a deadline to deliver proposals for economic and political incentives.

The EU asked for an extension of an Aug. 1 deadline to submit proposals, saying they would be ready by Aug. 7. The EU is offering the incentives so Iran will limit its nuclear program.

A senior official with Iran's nuclear program told Reuters news agency on Sunday that plans to enrich uranium would definitely proceed.

"As we did not receive the EU proposal, naturally we will definitely resume work at the Isfahan plant tomorrow," said the official, who refused to be named.

Several Western officials, who declined to be named, expressed concern at the Iranian move. A British official called it a "dangerous step" while European diplomats said a "generous" offer that included "security guarantees" was being finalized for presentation this week.

One diplomat tied to the International Atomic Energy Agency qualified the proposed deal, noting that no one could deliver a "100 percent guarantee" against invasion.

It was not immediately clear if the United States and the EU would make good on their threat to refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council for sanctions if Iran resumed its nuclear program.

Some work on the nuclear program, which the EU and the U.S. fear will lead to an A-bomb, will resume regardless of the proposals, outgoing Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said earlier this week.

Khatami will be replaced on Aug. 6 by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the conservative former mayor of Tehran, who won recent elections.

* FROM MAY 9, 2005: Iran to resume nuclear activities in 'days'

Iran has said it that a resumption would see the Isfahan plant convert raw uranium into gas. But officials have said that, for now, it would not move on to the next step, putting the gas into centrifuges to create enriched uranium.
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami. (CP File Photo)

Oil-rich Iran maintains that it needs nuclear power to produce electricity. The U.S. and the EU's three main states, Britain, France and Germany, say Iran must abide by an agreement made in Paris last November to suspend all enrichment and reprocessing activities.

* FROM NOV. 15, 2005: Iran's nuclear freeze meets UN demands: report

But the threat of a referral to the Security Council didn't appear to scare officials in Iran, a country with strong trade ties to two countries with permanent council seats and veto powers, Russia and China.

Ramid Reza Asefi, a spokesman for Iran's Foreign Ministry, said there is no legal basis for a referral.

"Besides," he added, "being referred to the council is not the end of the world. Some officials even believe it is better to be referred to the council."


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