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Iran's Uranium Enrichment Program Continues, Admits Tehran - 2003-10-26

Iran said it has not yet stopped its program for enriching uranium, days after it promised three European nations it would do so. An Iranian Foreign Ministry official said Tehran is still looking into how it should proceed with dismantling the work that the United States said is aimed at making atomic weapons.

Iran conceded that it had not stopped its work on enriching uranium, although it was looking into the ways of doing it.

Suspending the controversial program is a key requirement set out by the International Atomic Energy Agency and something Tehran last week promised to do in meetings with the foreign ministers of Britain, France, and Germany.

An Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hameed Reza Asefi reiterated Iran's pledge, but he added that his country is still in the process of examining and discussing methods for fulfilling it.

At the same time, the spokesman retracted an earlier statement that Iran had suspended its disputed uranium enrichment process.

Iran insists its nuclear program is entirely peaceful, and that it needs low-level enriched uranium to power what it says are its civilian, nuclear energy programs.

The United States claims Iran is intent on making an atomic bomb.

In the deal worked out last Tuesday in Tehran between Iranian officials and the French, British and German foreign ministers, Tehran pledged to halt the enrichment program and to allow tougher inspections of its nuclear sites by the IAEA.

As their part of the deal, the three European countries promised to help Iran acquire peaceful nuclear technology.

The IAEA has given Iran an October 31 deadline to prove Tehran's claims that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful and geared to producing electricity.

If Iran fails to do so, the IAEA is expected to refer the matter to the U.N. Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions.