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Iran plans to resume uranium enrichment
Updated: 2006-02-05 06:07

Iran's president Saturday ordered the resumption of uranium enrichment and an end to snap inspections of its facilities after the U.N. nuclear watchdog voted to report Tehran to the Security Council.

Iran plans to resume uranium enrichment
Russia's Ambassador to the IAEA Gregory Berdennikov is surrounded by media after the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) 35-nation board meeting on escalating nuclear standoff with Iran, on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2006, at Vienna's International Center. [AP]
Iran had warned that it would resume enrichment if the International Atomic Energy Agency board voted to refer it to the Security Council, which it did on Saturday. Tehran also said a proposal by Moscow to enrich uranium in Russia was dead.

"As of Sunday, the voluntary implementation of the additional protocol and other cooperation beyond the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty has to be suspended under the law," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said in a letter addressed to Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

Javad Vaeidi, deputy head of the powerful National Security Council, said there was no "adequate reason to pursue the Russian plan."

"Commercial scale uranium enrichment will be resumed in Natanz in accordance with the law passed by the parliament," Vaeidi told state television in a telephone interview from Vienna, Austria. Natanz is Iran's main enrichment plant.

The Russian government had proposed that Iran shift its plan for large-scale enrichment of uranium to Russian territory to allay world suspicions that Iran might use the process to develop a nuclear bomb.

Uranium enriched to a low degree is used as fuel for nuclear reactors. But highly enriched uranium is suitable for making atomic bombs.

Twenty-seven of 35 member nations on the International Atomic Energy Agency board voted for referral, reflecting more than two years of intense lobbying by the United States and its allies to enlist broad backing for such a move. Cuba, Venezuela and Syria voted against, and five members abstained.

After years of opposition, Russia and China backed the referral last week, bringing support from other nations who had been waiting for their lead.

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