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Iran Warns Against UN Referral
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Iran warned that it will start large-scale uranium enrichment if it is referred to the UN Security Council. Top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani told a news conference on Sunday.

"If Iran's nuclear dossier is referred to the UN Security Council, (large scale) uranium enrichment will be resumed," Larijani said.

"If they (the US and its allies) want to use force, we will pursue our own path," he added.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will meet in Vienna, Austria, Monay to discuss Iran's nuclear program and decide whether to refer the issue to the Security Council which could impose sanctions on the Islamic republic.

"Research and development won't stop, but we are ready to agree to a timetable on (large-scale uranium) enrichment. This is the final proposal from Iran to find a solution," he said.

During crisis talks on Friday with EU powers over its nuclear activities, Iran offered a two-year moratorium on industrial-scale nuclear fuel enrichment while continuing its nuclear research, diplomats said.

But EU diplomats rejected the offer saying it would not allay concerns that Teheran secretly wants to build atomic bombs. One European diplomat familiar with the talks said the EU had demanded up to a 10-year moratorium, which Iran rejected.

Iran only has an experimental research program and it would need months to begin any large-scale enrichment.

Larijani also said Iran would not abandon nuclear research, or back down from pursuing a peaceful nuclear program if the country was taken to the Security Council.

The US and its allies should show "their good will," and "accept industrial scale (uranium enrichment) by Iran, accept nuclear research and development. Then, if they have any concerns, we will be ready to show flexibility in short term."

"We are ready to set a timetable for uranium enrichment" if Iran's rights are accepted, he added.

Earlier, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi had said Iran could reach a nuclear agreement with Russia or Europe within the next few hours.

US criticized of 'double standards'

Asefi said such a deal would be called off if the IAEA referred the Islamic republic to the Security Council, and added that the Russian proposal to enrich Iranian nuclear fuel needed more discussion.

"Both an agreement, and its absence, is possible. Nothing is definite," he told a news conference.

He said the IAEA meeting "will be a big test for the agency to show how it will defend its members. What it is going to do will be a basis for judgment by the world. We do advise the agency to work in a professional and non-political direction," said Asefi.

Asefi also criticized what he described as the double standard in US nuclear policy, citing Washington's recent deal with India as an example. "The United States' approach is a form of double standards. It signed a contract with a country that was not a member of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty. That is objectionable. On the other hand, it approaches Iran in such a (bad) way," he said.

(China Daily March 6, 2006)


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