Iranian official: Uranium enrichment not abandoned; suspension is for limited time
TEHRAN, Iran – Iran claimed victory in its nuclear dispute Tuesday, saying it has isolated the United States while preserving its right to enrich uranium.
Iran said it has not abandoned its right to enrich uranium, in spite of U.S. pressure, noting the agreement it struck this week with the U.N. nuclear agency will only suspend processing for several months.
Speaking to reporters, Iran’s top nuclear official, Hasan Rowhani, hailed the resolution passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency on Monday authorizing IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei to monitor Iran’s commitment to freeze uranium enrichment activities.
Such enrichment can produce either low-grade fuel for nuclear reactors or the raw material for atomic weapons.
Monday’s resolution followed a Nov. 7 agreement on suspending enrichment activities that France, Germany and Britain negotiated with Iran to stave off tougher action by the U.N. watchdog agency, which could have referred Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
“This new situation is a turning point in Iran’s nuclear case because, for the first time, the (IAEA) board of governors acknowledged Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear activities,” Rowhani said.
It was, he said, a “great success for Iran and Europeans” because it required Iran to suspend uranium enrichment only temporarily.
The United States suspects Iran has a secret program to produce nuclear weapons and has been lobbying for the country’s nuclear file to go before the Security Council. Iran insists its program is strictly for generating electricity.
After the IAEA passed the resolution, U.S. chief delegate Jackie Sanders told the board there were more than a dozen open questions about Iran’s nuclear intentions despite the agency’s nearly two-year investigation of the country.