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Parliament to oblige Iran's Atomic Energy Organization to resume uranium enrichment

Tehran, Feb 13, IRNA -- Parliament will oblige Iran's Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) to produce part of the nuclear fuel needed for the country's reactors, a senior nuclear energy official announced in Tehran on Sunday.

According to the IAEO's deputy head for international affairs and planning, Mohammad Saeedi, parliament will present a bill to 'task Iran's Atomic Energy Organization with meeting part of the fuel for the country's atomic plants'.

"As repeatedly announced by the country's authorities, including the president, Iran's planning is such that it will conclude (construction) of its atomic plants and meet part of their fuel supply within the country," he told IRNA.

This will mark Tehran's rejection of the Europeans' efforts to persuade Iran on permanent suspension of uranium enrichment in their negotiations.

Iran agreed last November to suspend uranium enrichment under an agreement reached in Paris with Britain, France and Germany, which represent the European Union, in exchange for trade, technology and security incentives.

Uranium enrichment is allowed under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), to which Iran is a signatory, and the country wants it as part of its efforts to master a nuclear fuel cycle.

Earlier Sunday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi insisted that Iran would not give up construction of a heavy-water reactor in exchange for a light-water reactor offered by the Europeans.

Saeedi said, "Iran's planning is also such that it takes the issue of suspension of uranium enrichment out of the negotiations context."

The official reiterated 'the definitive position of the Islamic Republic to continue uranium enrichment', saying the country's suspension of the process so far has only been for 'removing international misunderstanding'.

Tehran has planned to plug the nationwide network to 7,000 megawatts of electricity, generated by its nuclear power plants by 2021, with the ceiling eventually being raised to 20,000 MW, Saeedi said.

Iran is already building a nuclear reactor in the southern city of Bushehr with Russian assistance to produce 1,000 megawatts of electricity, with the project planned to come on stream in 2006.

Saeedi said the head of the Russian Atomic Energy Agency, Alexander Rumyantsev, will soon visit Tehran to finalize a date for the plant's operation.

"The Russian side announced a certain date, but we didn't accept it and we will try to reach agreement on a fixed date during this visit," he said.

The official acknowledged 'some slowness' in the construction of the Bushehr plant, which he said were due to technical problems, saying 80 percent of the installation work has been carried out.

"We hope the remaining 20-percent (work) will finish, given the two sides' acceleration of the construction operations.

"The main pieces and structures of the plant, including the reactor, the turbine and steam converters, have already been installed and we hope the remaining peripheral equipment will be installed in the few upcoming months," Saeedi said.

The two sides will also sign a deal on return of spent fuel by setting a date since existing obstacles in this regard have been removed.

Rumyantsev and Iranian official will also discuss the construction of the second nuclear reactor by Russian specialists, including decide whether to build it in Bushehr or elsewhere.

Saeedi said technical issues of the project have ended since six months ago and Tehran is ready to start contractual negotiations.

"The Russian side has announced its readiness to build the second reactor and we hope we will finalize a date for starting the construction," he said.

According to the official, a full working day in the visit will be devoted to a tour of the Bushehr plant by Rumyantsev and his Iranian counterpart, Gholamreza Aqazadeh.

... Payvand News - 2/13/05 ... --

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