Iran resumes enrichment as West's patience wears thin

18 February 2006

Small-scale enrichment of uranium has resumed at Iran’s Natanz plant. The news was followed by a warning from the European Parliament, which issued a statement supporting UN Security Council involvement in curbing some aspects of Iran’s ambitious nuclear programme.

In a resolution adopted this week the European Parliament affirmed that the issue must be resolved in accordance with the rules of international law, and considers that the involvement of the UN Security Council is a necessary step.

“The House considers that, in accordance with the IAEA resolution, it is necessary for Iran to re-establish full and sustained suspension of all enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, to reconsider the construction of a research reactor moderated by heavy water, to ratify promptly and resume full implementation of the Additional Protocol and, in general terms, to implement the transparency measures requested by the IAEA director general,” a statement from the European parliament reads.

In a further measure of brinkmanship, the country has warned that it may revise its policies related to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Addressing crowds in Tehran, president Ahmadinejad said: “Until now the Islamic republic has pursued its nuclear effort within the context of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the Non-Proliferation Treaty. However, if we see that despite our respect for these regulations you want to violate the rights of the Iranian people, you should understand the Iranian nation will revise its policies.”

Despite the inflammatory move, Iran is apparently willing to resume talks with Russia over proposals to enrich Iranian uranium at Russian facilities, although meetings with the Russian negotiators have been delayed.

Meanwhile, media reports suggest that plans for two further nuclear plants are under consideration in the national budget bill for the next Iranian calendar year. The southwestern province of Khuzestan is one suggested location for the new plants while the Bushehr plant on the Persian Gulf is scheduled to become operational this year.




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