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Europe

Iran Readies to Resume Nuclear Work

Iran officials said Monday that the country will restart its nuclear program later in the day after the EU failed to respond to an offer to delay the resumption.

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They're bound to resume work at the Isfahan plant on Monday

Ali Aghamohammadi, the spokesman of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, said EU officials had failed to move in time.

"We had given them a chance until midday (0730 GMT), but (EU Foreign Policy chief Javier) Solana has not announced any decision," he told Iranian state television, according to Reuters news service.

"In the next half hour we will hand a letter to the UN
nuclear agency saying we will restart activities today," he
added.

The move has raised the stakes in the nuclear standoff and risks seeing Iran hauled before the UN Security Council for possible sanctions, a persistent demand of the United States which accuses Iran of seeking atomic weapons.

The uranium conversion process, carried out in Iran at a facility in the central city of Isfahan, changes uranium ore into the uranium gas that is the feedstock for enrichment. Iran agreed in November to suspend uranium enrichment activities, a process that makes fuel for civilian nuclear power plants but can also be the explosive core of atom bombs, during negotiations with the Europeans.

The so-called EU-3 of Britain, France and Germany is preparing a package of trade, technology and security incentives in return for Iran guaranteeing its nuclear program is peaceful.

A right to enrichment?

Tehran insists it has the right to enrichment under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the issue has been one of the chief stumbling blocks in the process with the Europeans. And outgoing reformist President Mohammad Khatami said last week that Iran would resume enrichment activities no matter what the Europeans propose although "we prefer to do it with their agreement."

Sitzungssaal des UN-Sicherheitsrat im UN-Hauptquartier in New York

UN Security Council

Washington accuses its Iran of seeking nuclear weapons, a charge vehemently denied by the Islamic republic, and the negotiation process with the EU is aimed at avoiding Tehran being brought before the Security Council.

EU concerned


But the EU-3 is "warning about the consequences of breaking the suspension and that this will lead to the matter being taken to the UN Security Council," one diplomat told AFP in Vienna, the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Der neue iranische Präsident Mahmud Ahmadinedschad Porträtfoto

Iran's President-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaks to the media, during his first news conference since being elected on Friday, in the City Council building in Tehran, Iran, Sunday, June 26, 2005. The ultraconservative Ahmadinejad has vowed to pursue a peaceful nuclear program and said Iran doesn't need America to make progress. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi)

On Saturday, Iran said EU-3 ambassadors had sent a message to the foreign ministry informing Tehran that it would make the offer by Aug. 7, to be followed up by an Iran-EU committee meeting on Aug. 30 in Paris and then a foreign ministers' meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September.

The Europeans have previously said they intended to submit the proposals after hardline president Mahmood Ahmadinejad (photo) takes office on Aug. 3. Ahmadinejad is due to address the UN assembly on what is expected to be his first visit abroad.



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