In Vienna, Austria, Iran has reneged on its pledge to provide the United Nations nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, with details on its uranium enrichment plans. Earlier, Iran said it would resume nuclear fuel research on January 9th.
The International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, says Tehran representatives did not attend discussions on Iran's nuclear program, as promised. IAEA head Mohamed El Baradei said he was "still seeking clarification" on what Iran would do January 9th, the date Iran says it will resume work on its nuclear enrichment program.
In an interview with American network ABC News, Ali Larijani, Iran's chief negotiator for nuclear issues, said Iran has a right to enrich uranium -- which is key to the development of a nuclear weapon. "We should accept and let any nation with the technical and scientific technology to move ahead with it,” he said. “We should absolutely allow it to do so."
The U.S. and the European Union remain concerned Iran's nuclear program is meant to develop nuclear weapons. U.S. State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack said, "If Iran resumes enrichment-related activities, the international community will have to take additional measures to constrain Iran's nuclear ambitions."
Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad questions the Western powers' authority to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions, which he says are peaceful. "They [U.S. and EU] say the Iranian nation hasn't the right to use peaceful nuclear technology. What is your basis for making such claims and according to which law?"
Meanwhile, a report in the British newspaper, The Guardian, says an intelligence document reveals Iran has been searching throughout Europe and former Soviet Republics to obtain the technology and expertise needed to build a nuclear weapon.
According to the Guardian, the document may have been leaked in response to growing frustration among Western powers over Iran's refusal to give up its program to produce fuel for its Bushehr nuclear power plant.
Iran resumed work converting raw uranium into gas in August. Its recent announcement is seen by some as an effort to raise the stakes ahead of a meeting with European powers scheduled for January 18th.
The U.S., which has no official relations with Iran, is supporting Europe's diplomatic efforts while raising the possibility of seeking UN sanctions against Tehran.