Nuclear enrichment work has not stopped: Iran
Tehran, Jan 14: Iran is pressing ahead with nuclear enrichmentactivities at its underground Natanz facility, foreign ministryspokesman said today dismissing some suggestions that the disputedenrichment work had stalled.
''Our activities at the Natanz nuclear enrichment facilitycontinue as scheduled,'' Mohammad Ali Hosseini told a weekly newsconference.
As an immediate reaction to the UN Security Council sanctionsresolution passed on December 23, Iran said defiantly it wouldimmediately start installing 3,000 centrifuges, which experts say couldenrich uranium in sufficient volume for power plant fuel, or for onebomb within a year.
But western diplomats and analysts told Reuters last week thatIran appeared not to have begun installing the machines for planned''industrial scale'' output of enriched uranium.
Iran has vowed never to heed the Council's demand to shelvenuclear enrichment work, saying it needs nuclear fuel only for powerplants, not for bombs as the United States and EU allies -- whosponsored sanctions -- suspect.
Some diplomats believed that Iran was reacting cautiously to theresolution following election losses by nuclear hardliners to moderatescounselling restraint.
Iran's parliament last month passed a bill obliging the governmentto revise its level of cooperation with the International Atomic EnergyAgency (IAEA) and to accelerate nuclear work.
But Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said Tehran hadno intention of pulling out of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) andending IAEA inspections of its nuclear sites.
Iran already has two cascades of 164 centrifuges running, whichspin at supersonic speeds to enrich uranium, and has said it plans toinstall 3,000 centrifuges by March 2007 at its pilot plant in Natanz,which Tehran says will eventually house tens of thousands of themachines.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has dismissed the UN resolution asjust a ''piece of torn paper'', calling on the West to learn to livewith an Iran that possesses nuclear energy technology.