Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Iran Says 'No Force' Can Stop Uranium Enrichment

A top Iranian official renewed Tehran's claim that it has a right to enrich uranium as part of its nuclear energy program, saying "no force" can stop it from doing so.
Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki
"The enrichment of uranium is Iran's internal affair," Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said at a press conference during a visit to Azerbaijan. "It is the right of any state and no force can prevent the state from exercising this right," he added. His comments came a day after the European Union made an offer of new direct talks on the disputed nuclear programme which Washington believes Iran is using as a cover for nuclear weapons development. Tehran has denied that and Mottaki reiterated Tehran's assertion that its nuclear program was solely to produce energy, not arms. "We are against producing and storing nuclear weapons. Atomic weapons in the whole world should be destroyed," Mottaki said. Mattaki offered no comment on the EU proposal or a Russian initiative announced last week under which Moscow would conduct uranium enrichment -- a process which can make both nuclear fuel and the explosive core of a weapon -- on Iran's behalf. Iran broke an agreement signed a year ago to suspend uranium enrichment-related work by resuming conversion -- a precursor to ultra-sensitive enrichment work. But the International Atomic Energy Agency put off taking Iran to the Security Council over its nuclear ambitions to give it time to mull the Russian plan.