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Iran Says Diplomacy Still Option in Nuclear Dispute

  • Elizabeth Arrott

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani says hope remains for a diplomatic solution to the international dispute over his country's nuclear program

Iran's speaker of parliament says hope remains for a diplomatic solution to the international dispute over his country's nuclear program. The comment comes one day after the government said it would build 10 new nuclear facilities, in defiance of international demands.

Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani's outreach Monday seemed to temper the announcement of plans to build the new uranium enrichment plants.

Larijani said parliament expects the nuclear issue, currently being negotiated by six major world powers, can be resolved by diplomatic means.

The parliament speaker also repeated Iran's position that it is abiding by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a rebuttal to western suspicions that Tehran is seeking nuclear weapons.

Also Monday, the head of Iran's nuclear program, Ali Akbar Salehi, said Iran had no intention of building the new enrichment plants until the International Atomic Energy Agency censured Tehran last week.

The IAEA board overwhelmingly chose to criticize Iran for failing to cooperate on nuclear issues and called on Tehran to halt construction of a recently revealed uranium enrichment plant.

China and Russia went along with the censure, leaving Iran without its traditional backers in international negotiations.

Western powers have long been concerned that Iran is enriching uranium for military purposes. The material would need to reach 90-percent enrichment to be suitable for nuclear weapons. Currently, Iran is enriching to fuel grade, about three percent.

A massive increase in enrichment capacity - without any clear Iranian plans for corresponding civilian energy use, such as new reactors - has added to Western worries.

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