Iran Nuclear NewsIran tells IAEA atom research to resume

Iran tells IAEA atom research to resume

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Reuters: Iran told the International Atomic Energy Agency on Tuesday that it would resume suspended nuclear-fuel research on January 9, a move likely to alarm the West which believes Tehran is seeking to make atom bombs. By Mark Heinrich

VIENNA (Reuters) – Iran told the International Atomic Energy Agency on Tuesday that it would resume suspended nuclear-fuel research on January 9, a move likely to alarm the West which believes Tehran is seeking to make atom bombs.

IAEA Secretary-General Mohamed ElBaradei informed the 35 countries on the U.N. watchdog agency’s board that it had received a note from Iran and is seeking clarification about its implications, the IAEA said in a statement.

Mohammad Saeedi, deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation, had announced earlier in the day that the nuclear fuel work would resume shortly.

Iran’s note cited the Islamic republic’s “full privilege and inalienable rights” in pursuing atomic energy under the IAEA covenant and nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which Tehran signed.

“The Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran has decided to resume, from January 9, 2006, R&D (research and development) on the peaceful nuclear energy programme which was suspended as part of its expanded voluntary and non-legally binding suspension” agreed earlier with the European Union, the message said.

“The agency (IAEA) is thus requested to take necessary and timely preparation in this regard,” Iran’s note said. “It is to be noted that the said R&D will be conducted in accordance with Iran’s safeguards agreement with the IAEA.”

Research on nuclear fuel may include some small-scale testing of sensitive atomic processes, including uranium enrichment, an activity Iran has said it is keen to master.

Iran says its nuclear work aims only to generate civilian electricity. But it concealed atomic development activities from the IAEA for 18 years until 2003, raising Western suspicions.

The IAEA statement said ElBaradei reiterated the importance of Iran maintaining its suspension of all activities related to enrichment of uranium, the key ingredient in nuclear bombs, to restore international confidence in its intentions.

“The Director General acknowledges the right under the NPT of all states, including Iran, to the peaceful use of nuclear technology. However, he continues to call on Iran to take the steps the IAEA requires to resolve outstanding issues regarding the nature of Iran´s nuclear programme,” the statement said.

“In the meantime, Dr ElBaradei also calls on Iran to take voluntary measures to build confidence, and enable the resumption of dialogue with all concerned parties.”

Tuesday’s news coincided with strong hints from Iran’s Foreign Ministry that Tehran planned to spurn a Russian proposal to defuse Iran’s stand-off with the West by enriching Iranian uranium in Russia to prevent diversions to arms-related work.

“This (Iranian announcement) is a withdrawal from the suspension, so it’s pretty serious. This is all about Natanz, since research and development is related to that,” said an EU Western diplomat, referring to an Iranian uranium-enrichment plant mothballed under an earlier deal with the EU.

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