Mon, Jun 28, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Iran declares plans to resume work on nuclear centrifuges

AP , TEHRAN, IRAN

Iran will resume building centrifuges for its nuclear program tomorrow despite international objections, but is continuing its suspension on uranium enrichment, the Foreign Ministry spokesman said yesterday.

Hamid Reza Asefi said Iran has informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the governments of the UK, Germany and France about its decision.

"We declared to IAEA and the three countries that we are prepared to resume work as of June 29th," Asefi said.

However, he said Tehran will remain committed to suspension of actual uranium enrichment -- injecting gas into centrifuges.

The announcement came days after the IAEA approved a European-drafted resolution that rebuked Iran for past cover-ups in its nuclear program. The US accuses Iran of trying to build nuclear weapons. Iran maintains its nuclear program is entirely peaceful, geared toward production of nuclear energy.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Hasan Rowhani, has said Iran's decision to reconsider its suspension of some uranium activity was in response to failure of the three European countries to help close Iran's nuclear dossier at last week's IAEA meeting. According to Rowhani, the three European powers promised in February to work toward closure by this month if Iran stopped making centrifuges. It did so in April.

Asefi insisted Iran's nuclear policy has not changed.

"Nothing important has happened ... Europeans failed to respect their commitments. Therefore, there is no reason for us to keep our moral promise," he said.

Though he was critical of the UK, France and Germany, Asefi said Iran's new decision didn't mean Tehran would end its dialogue with Europeans. Rather, he said, a dialogue of Iranian and European experts is planned "in the coming days."

Asefi said Iran wants the IAEA and the three European countries to supervise Iranian building, assembling and testing of centrifuges when the program resumes.

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