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Iran Issues New Nuclear Demands

DW staff / AFP (dc)November 25, 2004

The UN atomic agency meets Thursday to review a resolution under which Iran is to freeze its uranium enrichment activities. On Wednesday, Iran warned it would seek to resume enrichment if the meeting did not go its way.

IAEA chief Mohamed El Baradei will review Iran's complianceImage: AP

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is meeting to review what was supposed to be a total freeze on Iran's uranium enrichment activities.

But on Wednesday, Iran asked the agency to exempt several dozen centrifuges from the agreement it hammered out with the European Union, and which went it effect on Monday.

A Western diplomat said it would be "outrageous" if Iran were allowed to exempt some centrifuges -- the machines used in enriching uranium -- from the suspension.

"It is not acceptable to us," a European diplomat said.

Dispute over Paris accord

Iranian officials also complained on the eve of the meeting that the draft resolution put together by diplomats from Britain, France, and Germany, ran counter to the deal struck recently in Paris.

"The text of the draft resolution does not conform to the Paris accord," Mohammad Saidi, deputy head of Iran's national Atomic Energy Organization, told the student news agency ISNA.

He said that the Europeans were trying to legally oblige Iran to maintain an "unlimited suspension," whereas Iran had only agreed to freeze its controversial fuel cycle work for the duration of a fresh round of negotiations with the EU aimed at reaching a long-term solution to the nuclear stand-off.

Warning from Iranian parliament

The head of Iran's parliament warned that deputies would press for a resumption of enrichment if Thursday's IAEA meeting did not go in Iran's favor. Haddad Adel said the meeting would be "the moment of truth in judging the sincerity of the Europeans."

"We will wait and see if the IAEA makes a decision based on the law or if it will make a political decision under US pressure," Adel said.

Iran Atomanlage in Isfahan Uran
The Isfahan uranium conversion facility in central Iran.Image: AP

The US suspects Iran of attempting to develop atomic weapons and has been trying for over a year to get the IAEA board to take Iran before the Security Council. Washington reluctantly gave its backing to the EU agreement with Iran, but called it weak because it falls short of demanding possible UN sanctions for Iran.

The EU has promised Iran a long-term deal, including increased trade and peaceful nuclear technology, if it maintains a suspension of enrichment.

Enrichment takes low-grade uranium and refines it, turning it into a material that serve as fuel for nuclear reactors or as the raw explosive material for atomic bombs.