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Iran to Resume Nuclear Activity If Case Goes to UN
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Iran will resume industrial-scale uranium enrichment if it is referred to the UN Security Council over its nuclear standoff with the West, a senior Iranian official was quoted yesterday as saying.


In an interview with the Financial Times, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani urged the EU to reopen talks that stalled after Teheran broke UN seals on uranium enrichment equipment.


The West suspects Iran wants the radioactive material to help make nuclear arms. Teheran says it will be used to generate electricity.


"If the negotiating route is open, we prefer to reach a conclusion through talks," Larijani told the newspaper. "But if this route is closed, we are obliged to follow up our other scenario. Everything depends on the way we are treated."


Asked if there was a timescale for uranium enrichment on an industrial scale, he said: "Yes. We have a plan for resumption.


"If we are referred to the Security Council, the government is obliged ... to lift all voluntary measures."


Washington and the EU want the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for pressure including possible sanctions.


Three EU powers, Germany, the UK and France, have refused to hold more talks until Teheran again suspends its uranium enrichment work.


Last month, Moscow proposed setting up a joint venture with Iran that would enrich uranium on Russian soil for Iran's planned nuclear reactors.


Larijani said no decision had been made on the Russian proposal.


"It is one we can study," he said. "This proposal, however, has to be completed."


Iran urged to ease tensions


Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov encouraged Iran yesterday to adopt a position that would help ease tensions over its nuclear program.


"We count on discussing with you the so-called nuclear problem, around which the situation is currently being heightened," Lavrov said at the start of a meeting with Deputy Iranian Foreign Minister Mehdi Safari. "We hope that our Iranian friends will choose a position that helps to ease tension and renew negotiations."


Lavrov stressed the common interests Russia and Iran share.


"We have coinciding interests in supporting and strengthening regional stability, whether it's the Middle East situation, Iraq, Afghanistan, and including the problem of narcotics and terrorism," Lavrov was quoted as saying by the RIA-Novosti News Agency.


Safari in turn said Teheran and Moscow "support dialogue on the nuclear problem," the ITAR-TASS News Agency reported.


And Russia's Interfax News Agency reported later yesterday that Larijani will head for Moscow today to discuss the nuclear issue with Russia's Security Council head Igor Ivanov.


Russia has close ties with Teheran and is building Iran's first nuclear power reactor, but has been moving closer to the Western position on Iran and is reluctant to let the issue cause a major rift in its relations with the US and Europe.


EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana said last week that Russia had proposed a delay in confronting Iran at the UN Security Council, suggesting that the council first hold less formal discussions instead of consideration based on referral by the IAEA, the UN's nuclear watchdog.


The head of Russia's atomic energy agency, Sergei Kiriyenko, has said Iran is ready for detailed discussions on a proposal to conduct Iran's uranium enrichment in Russia. That idea is backed by the US and Europeans as a way out of the deadlock.


The proposal, under which uranium would be enriched in Russia for use in Iranian reactors, is aimed at overcoming concerns that Iran could enrich its own uranium to higher levels for use in nuclear weapons rather than for power production.


(China Daily January 24, 2006)


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