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Iran to Resume Uranium Enrichment

A top Iranian security official said in Tehran on Wednesday that Iran would resume its highly sensitive uranium enrichment program in the near future, according to the official IRNA news agency.

"Iran is determined to resume its enrichment activities under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the near future," Hassan Rowhani, Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and chief nuclear negotiator, was quoted as saying.

He stated that uranium enrichment to produce the fuel needed by nuclear power plants is the absolute right of countries that are signatories to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.

In a meeting with visiting Japanese Deputy Foreign Minister Ichiro Isawa, Rowhani also expressed Tehran's readiness to offer commitments to prevent any diversion of its activities toward production of nuclear arms.

"Over 800 person/day of inspections have been carried out in Iran's nuclear installations by the IAEA last year. Such a degree of cooperation proved Tehran's good intentions as well as the peaceful nature of its nuclear activities," Rowhani added.

Uranium enrichment is the crux of the Iranian nuclear issue. The US accused Tehran of developing nuclear weapons secretly, a charge that Iran categorically denied and claimed was politically motivated.

After repeated retreats and bargains, Iran suspended its enrichment program on November 22. However, it insisted that it would not give up its legal rights and the suspension was only a voluntary and temporary measure to build confidence.

Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, chairman of the powerful Expediency Council of Iran, said on December 3 that the maximum duration of the suspension was six months.

(Xinhua News Agency January 13, 2005)

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