Iran Nuclear NewsPowell urges close eye on Iranian nuclear activities

Powell urges close eye on Iranian nuclear activities

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AFP: US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday that the international community must keep a close eye on Iran’s nuclear activities to ensure it does not violate a hard-won deal to suspend uranium enrichment. He told French television that while the United States accepted the accord struck by Iran and the European Union, it would not drop its guard.
AFP

PARIS – US Secretary of State Colin Powell said Thursday that the international community must keep a close eye on Iran’s nuclear activities to ensure it does not violate a hard-won deal to suspend uranium enrichment.

He told French television that while the United States accepted the accord struck by Iran and the European Union, it would not drop its guard.

“We are concerned it is only a suspension and a suspension can be revoked,” he said on France 3 television in an interview from Brussels.

“And so we believe Iran has been moving toward the development of a nuclear weapon, and that concerns us.”

Under the deal, hammered out last month after lengthy talks between Tehran and Europe’s so-called “big three” of Britain, France and Germany, Iran agreed to suspend uranium enrichment — a key stage in the nuclear fuel cycle — and allow inspections of its atomic sites.

In return, Iran was promised wide-ranging rewards by the European trio who would like the freeze to become permanent.

At the same time, the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, also agreed not to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

Iran claims its nuclear programme is a peaceful, civilian effort and denies Washington’s allegations that it is secretly developing nuclear weapons.
Powell recalled that Iran had previously agreed to suspend enrichment only to resume the process.

“Now we have a new agreement with the European Union,” he said. “That’s all well and good. But we should never take our eye off this problem.”

In separate remarks in Brussels on the sidelines of a NATO meeting, Powell said he hoped international pressure would oblige Iran to make its suspension permanent.

“I hope… the spotlight and heat lamp that have been put on Iran will make it difficult for them to move forward with this programme.

“Hopefully theyll come to the realisation that the international community will do everything to keep such a programme from achieving a level of success, meaning the development of a nuclear weapon,” he told a news conference.

Uranium enrichment is a process used to make fuel for nuclear reactors but also, in a highly enriched form, the explosive core of atomic bombs.

Iran has pledged to maintain its suspension while the negotiations with the EU are in progress.

More talks are scheduled on Monday, diplomatic sources in Brussels said.

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