A top Iranian nuclear official has said that Iran has no plans to sever its ties with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), while disclosing that it has stored more feedstock for uranium enrichment, state media reported on Friday.
"We are to rationally follow up our activities and continue cooperation with the IAEA," the official IRNA news agency quoted Gholamreza Aghazadeh, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, as saying on Thursday.
Aghazadeh noted that high-ranking Iranian officials have decided to continue cooperation with the IAEA at present while a committee has been formed under supervision of the Supreme National Security Council to study the prospects of Iran's cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog.
The committee would draw up a timetable for inspections to be conducted by IAEA inspectors in Iran's nuclear sites, he added. Commenting on UN Security Council Resolution 1737 which was adopted on Dec. 23, 2006 to impose sanctions on Iran over its nuclear issue, Aghazadeh said, "Since we are an independent nation, the sanctions will leave no impact on our development."
"We believe that negotiations would be the final solution to Iran's nuclear standoff," he added.
According to Iran's state television, Aghazadeh also said that his country has produced and stockpiled 250 tons of uraniumhexafluoride (UF6) gas as the feedstock for uranium enrichment. "Today we have produced more than 250 tons of UF6 ... InIsfahan we have built tunnels that are rarely seen in the world," he said.
According to reports of the IAEA, Iran had stored a total of 165 tons of UF6 as of early November 2006.
Uranium enrichment at low levels can be used to produce fuel to generate electricity but at higher levels can be used to make atomic bombs. Iran has already claimed that it has enriched uranium to levels of around 5 percent.
Iran, the world's fourth largest oil exporter, says it needs to enrich uranium as a peaceful, alternative energy source and has the right to do so under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
However, the West has accused Iran of trying to produce nuclear weapons under a civilian cover, a charge denied by Tehran.
(Xinhua News Agency January 6, 2007)