Diplomats told reporters in Vienna that Iran is once again building centrifuges that can be used in enriching uranium for nuclear weapons. They said Iranian officials broke the seals that IAEA inspectors had placed on centrifuge equipment.
July 27, 2004 - Defying the UN International Atomic Energy Agency's efforts to monitor Iran's nuclear program, officials broke the seals of the equipment and resumed building centrifuges that can be used for enriching uranium. The Islamic Republic had agreed last October to suspend uranium enrichment activities, in a deal in Tehran with foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany.
Unlike in North Korea, removing the seals on Iran's equipment "was not a legal requirement," AP quoted one unnamed diplomat, in a dispatch from Vienna. Tehran notified the IAEA of its decision to break the seals, the diplomat said. Iran continues to respect its pledge not to resume nuclear enrichment, said the diplomat.
Envoys from Britain, France and Germany will meet next week in Paris or London with Islamic government representatives in a bid to salvage their October deal, but resumption of work on centrifuges will make reaching an agreement unlikely. Nevertheless, a British diplomat told Reuters that negotiation was the only solution.
"Their chances of success seem slim, however, because Teheran now appears to have calculated that America is paralysed by the presidential election campaign and that Europe is too divided to exert real pressure, London's Daily Telegraph reports.
Iran already announced last month that it had planned to restart the program in response to the IAEA's harshly worded resolution, deploring Islamic government's "lack of full cooperation."
Iran has not publicly announced that it has resumed building centrifuges. But President Mohammad Khatami told reporters in Tehran earlier this month that "there is no impediment to doing this work."
According to an earlier AP report, top nuclear negotiator Hasan Rowhani had announced the resumption of the work on centrifuges on June 29, but the Iranian TV had been ordered not to air the news.
The centrifuges separate the fissile isotope U235. The same equipment can be used for making power plant fuel and bomb fuel.
In what may be a further escalation, some western sources said Iran was carrying out its threat to begin producing uranium hexafluoride, the gas fed into the centrifuges, but the claim could not be corroborated, according to the Telegraph.
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