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Iran Declares Determination to Pursue Uranium Enrichment

Kamal Kharrazi addressing UN-sponsored conference on nuclear disarmament
Iran has declared its determination to pursue all legal types of nuclear technology, despite the threat of international sanctions. The declaration came at a U.N.-sponsored conference on nuclear disarmament.

Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi reaffirmed Tuesday that his country would not be deterred by attempts to restrict its nuclear program.

"Iran, for its part, is determined to pursue all legal areas of nuclear technology, including enrichment, exclusively for peaceful purposes, and has been eager to offer assurances and guarantees that they remain permanently peaceful," Mr. Kharrazi said.

Speaking at the U.N.-sponsored conference to review the 1970 nuclear non-proliferation treaty, the Iranian minister rejected the idea that halting its nuclear energy program could ensure that Tehran is not producing nuclear weapons.

"No one should be under the illusion that objective guarantees can theoretically or practically amount to cessation or even long-term suspension of legal activity which have been and will be carried out with the fullest and most intrusive IAEA supervision," he said. "Cessation of legal activity is no objective guarantee against so-called breakout. It is indeed a historically tested recipe for one."

Mr. Kharrazi's comment appeared to be a rejection of attempts by France, Germany and Britain to persuade Iran to give up its uranium enrichment program in exchange for economic incentives.

Iran had agreed to freeze its nuclear fuel program during negotiations with the European trio. But a foreign ministry spokesman in Tehran was quoted Tuesday as saying some nuclear activities would resume.

The European trio has warned that any move by Iran to enrich uranium would prompt them to support a U.S. call for the case to be referred to the U.N. Security Council.

A U.S. delegate told the NPT review conference Monday that Iran is secretly trying to build atomic weapons. Assistant Secretary of State Stephen Rademaker demanded that Tehran dismantle all facilities it has built to produce nuclear material, and suggested that the international community should revoke Iran's right to nuclear energy technology.

Other speakers at the conference have paid little heed to the U.S. call for action. Several have instead suggested a package of incentives and negotiations as a way to encourage Iran to give up aspects of its energy program that could be used for weapons production.