August 2, 2005 in Nation/World

Iran holds off on nuclear restart after U.N. request

Associated Press
 

ISFAHAN, Iran – Iran threatened to reopen its nuclear processing plant Monday but later agreed to a delay after receiving a request from the head of the U.N. atomic watchdog agency.

Ali Agha Mohammadi, spokesman for Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, told the Associated Press that International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohammed ElBaradei asked Tehran for a “maximum of two days” to send its inspectors to Iran’s nuclear facility where they can oversee the dismantling of U.N. seals.

But the IAEA denied setting a two-day deadline, saying more time is needed to oversee the plant’s resumption of uranium processing, agency spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said.

“We have sent a letter to Iran indicating that it would take at least a week to get our surveillance equipment and other required measures in place,” she said.

Earlier, Mohammadi had said Iranian technicians would break the seals and restart nuclear processing Monday.

Mohammadi said the combination of restraint and resolve toward restarting uranium processing showed the government’s intention not to squander Iran’s fundamental right to nuclear power, while preserving close ties to Europe.

“Our people were worried that the government may have done a deal with the Europeans and given up the rights of the nation,” Mohammadi told the AP. On state-run TV late Monday, Mohammadi said authorities would delay opening Iran’s Isfahan Nuclear Conversion Facility for a week if it thought European negotiators would offer a proposal that left its rights to nuclear technology intact.

EU negotiators have said they are mere days from delivering a package of incentives addressing security and political, economic and nuclear issues.

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