Foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi said the Islamic Republic will no longer honor a Brussels agreement with the EU in which it had made a commitment not to build centrifuge equipment. Kharrazi said however that the voluntary suspension of uranium enrichment, announced last October, will continue. July 31, 2004 - The Islamic Republic has not resumed enriching uranium, but it was manufacturing centrifuges, foreign minister Kamal Kharrazi said on Saturday, during a joint press conference in Tehran with visiting Azerbaijan foreign minister.
“We still continue suspension on uranium enrichment, meaning that we have not resumed enrichment,” Kharrazi said. “But we are not committed to another agreement with them (Britain, Germany and France) on not to build centrifuges,” he added, referring to an agreement signed in Brussels with the European Union by the Islamic government’s top nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani.
Kharrazi denied charges that the Islamic government was pursuing nuclear weapons. “We just want to produce fuel for our plants and we are not after nuclear weapons,” he said.
Kharrazi said resumption of centrifuge construction was in retaliation against an IAEA resolution last month that deplored the Islamic government’s failure to co-operate fully with UN inspectors.
Diplomats say Iran has also restarted work at a uranium conversion facility near the central city of Isfahan, Reuters reports in a dispatch from Tehran. This plant turns processed ore, or yellowcake, into uranium hexafluoride gas which is pumped into centrifuges to form enriched uranium, at low levels for power generation or high levels for nuclear weapons.
In informal closed-door negotiations with the Islamic Republic officials, which began last week in Paris, officials from Britain, France and Germany sought to convince Iran to honor its international commitments.
US and Israeli officials have charged that the Islamic government was using a civilian nuclear program as a cover for a secret nuclear weapons project.
The talks in Paris prepare the ground for a September meeting of the board of governors of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is expected to discuss Iran’s nuclear program.
Kharrazi said the Paris talks were designed to instill confidence that Iran is not seeking to make an atom bomb.
“We are holding these talks to reach further understanding and create more confidence in the direction that we are not seeking nuclear weapons,” he said. “At the same time, we will insist on our legitimate rights.”
Kharrazi admitted that there was disagreement among Islamic government factions about Iran's cooperation with the IAEA. Editor of the hard-line daily Kayhan Hossein Shariatmadari wrote Saturday that the Paris talks may result in humiliation for Iran. He predicted that the US and its European allies planned to produce a “silent overthrow” of the Islamic regime, using the nuclear program as a lever.
Jomhouri-ye Eslami, another hard-line daily which is run by the office of the Supreme Leader wrote that the Brussels agreement was void since it had been signed without proper authorization.
Iran suspended uranium enrichment last October under pressure from foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany. In return, Europe’s big three promised to make it easier for Iran to obtain advanced nuclear technology