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Thursday, July 28, 2005

Iran's President Says Nuclear Work Will Resume - New York Times

Iran's President Says Nuclear Work Will Resume - New York TimesJuly 28, 2005
Iran's President Says Nuclear Work Will Resume

TEHRAN, July 27 - Iran's departing president said Wednesday that the country's senior officials had decided to resume activities at one nuclear site no matter what incentives were in a European proposal expected next week.

Mohammad Khatami made the comment during one of his last meetings with journalists as president. He will be succeeded Aug. 6 by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a conservative who has said Iran has no intention of making nuclear weapons but will not give up its right to peaceful nuclear technology.

Mr. Khatami said, "Whether the Europeans mention our right in their would-be proposals or not, we will definitely resume work in Isfahan," the site of a uranium processing plant.

"It was expected that they will agree to resumption of activities at the plant in Isfahan," he said. "We prefer to do it with their agreement. If they don't agree, then the decision to start activities in Isfahan has already been made by the ruling system."

Under the Iranian Constitution, major state policies, like decisions over nuclear activities, are made by the supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

At the Isfahan plant, 155 miles south of Tehran, uranium ore is converted into gas. The gas can later be fed into centrifuges for enrichment to produce fuel for nuclear bombs or reactors. Iran contends it wants to make its own fuel for nuclear energy.

Britain, Germany and France are to present an incentive proposal in an effort to persuade Iran to maintain the suspension of its uranium enrichment program. Last November, Iran agreed to suspend its enrichment-related activities until the Europeans presented their proposal.

Two senior diplomats involved in the talks, from Britain and France, confirmed that the presentation would occur on schedule, but said that the plan was not yet final.

A senior Iranian official said Tuesday that the European countries had until Aug. 1 to present their proposal or Tehran would go its own way.

The official, Ali Aghamohammadi, the spokesman for Iran's National Security Council, which has been responsible for the negotiations, told state television, "We have told Europeans that there should not be any delay in submitting their proposal." He added, "After Aug. 1 we will make our decision."

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