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Iran Religious Leader: Tehran to Enrich Own High-Grade Uranium if No Deal

Hojatoleslam Ahmad Khatami's comments came in reaction to an IAEA resolution adopted on Friday demanding that Iran halt construction of a new uranium enrichment facility.

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A senior Iranian cleric says Iran will produce its own uranium fuel if there is no deal with the United Nations Atomic Energy Agency.  The cleric's comments came in reaction to an IAEA resolution adopted on Friday demanding that Iran halt construction of a new uranium enrichment facility.  Iran's top nuclear negotiator is also insisting that Tehran will not stop enriching uranium.

Amid loud acclamations of approval, top hardline Iranian cleric, Hojatoleslam Ahmad Khatami warned the West that Tehran will produce its own high-grade uranium for a medical research reactor, if the UN International Atomic Energy Agency refuses to provide the fuel.

Khatami insisted that the IAEA is required to supply the fuel, despite reservations by the West.

Hojatoleslam says IAEA regulations stipulate that the agency provide the fuel for Iran's medical reactor in Tehran. He says if the agency gives Iran the fuel, the matter is settled. Otherwise, he warns, the great Iranian nation which has developed its own nuclear technology will produce the fuel by using its own know-how.

The Iranian cleric said the IAEA resolution passed Friday is a "political, rather than a technical" move.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said Tehran would not stop enriching uranium, but it would still cooperate to some extent with the IAEA.

"The answer to this [IAEA] resolution is definitely no," he said. "We are not going to suspend our enrichment activities. We are not going to suspend the completion of the Fordoo nuclear enrichment activities. But, at the same time, we are continuing cooperating with the agency, and all these activities will be under the IAEA safeguard, but only within the framework of the NPT."

Soltanieh also argued that Tehran would refrain from what he described as Iran's voluntary cooperation gestures towards the IAEA after Friday's resolution.

"They have been discouraged by this resolution Iran to take voluntary steps that we have taken in many occasions in the past, particularly the recent ones, when the [IAEA] director general [Mohammed al-Baradei] was in Iran," he said. "In fact, we took voluntary steps informing them about these new sites. (Iran's new nuclear enrichment site at) Fordoo was among these volunteer natures, because we should not have informed at this juncture. In fact, we have 18 months ahead of what we are obliged to. Therefore, we would not be committed to any of this."

A hardline Iranian member of parliament, Mohammed Karamirad, warned Saturday that Tehran could pull out of negotiations with the International Atomic Energy Agency or stop it from inspecting Iran's nuclear facilities.

Uranium enrichment is the process used to make fuel for nuclear power plants, but when extended it can also produce fissile material for an atomic bomb.

Friday's IAEA resolution criticized Tehran for building the secret nuclear enrichment plant at Fordoo, which it disclosed in September, and demanded that it cease construction on the plant immediately. Tehran was also summoned to disclose any other secret nuclear activities.

The IAEA resolution, which garnered the approval of 25 of the agency's 35 governing board members, including China and Russia, was the first taken against Iran since 2006. 
 

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