Iran Nuclear NewsIran insists will not suspend enrichment - agency

Iran insists will not suspend enrichment – agency

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Reuters: Iran will not suspend uranium enrichment, the main demand in a nuclear package backed by six world powers, the deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation said on Monday. By Parisa Hafezi

TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran will not suspend uranium enrichment, the main demand in a nuclear package backed by six world powers, the deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation said on Monday.

Mohammad Saeedi said Tehran would formally respond to the package on Tuesday, a deadline Iran had earlier set itself.

He also said Iran would press ahead with plans to produce heavy water, a move a Western diplomat said was unhelpful in the nuclear standoff but was not a proliferation risk.

“Considering the technical advancement of Iranian scientists, the suspension of uranium enrichment is not possible any more,” he was quoted as saying by Iran’s Fars News Agency.

Iranian officials have previously insisted Iran would not stop enrichment, a process that has military and civilian uses, but world powers were hoping to sway that decision.

“Iran’s answer is very comprehensive and creates a very appropriate opportunity for the West to solve Iran’s nuclear case through negotiations and dialogue,” Saeedi said of the response that will come on Tuesday.

The West accuses Iran of seeking to develop atomic weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear programme. Tehran denies it seeks to make bombs, saying it only wants to make electricity.

HEAVY WATER

In addition to concerns about enrichment, Western nations are also worried about a heavy water nuclear reactor being built at Arak, 120 miles southwest of Tehran. The plant’s plutonium by-product can be used to make atomic warheads.

“The major heavy water project of Iran will be inaugurated in the very near future,” Saeedi said.

Spent fuel can be processed to extract weapons-grade plutonium. The plutonium can also be mixed with enriched uranium to produce fuel for a special type of nuclear reactor.

But a top nuclear official said it was only the facility to produce heavy water that would go onstream within 10 days, not the reactor which is of concern to Western nations.

He said heavy water had no military use and so International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supervision was not obligatory.

“The product of this project provides for cooling and depleting systems of the reactor, that can be used in various industries,” he said.

A Western diplomat agreed that the heavy water facility was not a proliferation risk but added: “We would not see it as a constructive gesture.”

The top Iranian official said Iran would go ahead with plans to installing new centrifuges, which enrich uranium by spinning at supersonic speeds.

Tehran has told the IAEA it would start installing 3,000 centrifuges later this year and get them operational by 2007, enough to produce a nuclear warhead in one year. It now operates a single cascade of 164 centrifuges, which it has already used to enriched uranium to levels used in nuclear power plants.

“I can not give an exact date for installation of other cascades, but we are going ahead as planned,” the official said.

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