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Iranian Official: Tehran Reserves Right to Resume Uranium Enrichment Program - 2003-11-29

A senior Iranian official says his country reserves the right to resume its uranium enrichment program, which he said Iran suspended temporarily.

Hassan Rohani, the secretary-general of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, says his country suspended its uranium enrichment program "voluntarily and temporarily" as a a confidence-building measure.

He says the enrichment program was "not in question and never has been, nor will be."

After months of high-level negotiations, the International Atomic Energy Agency issued a report on Wednesday condemning what it called a long-standing Iranian effort to conceal the extent of its nuclear program. The agency stopped short of recommending the issue to the Security Council for possible sanctions, but warned that any further Iranian violations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty would be dealt with harshly.

The IAEA is due to issue its next report on Iranian nuclear compliance in February.

Iran says it will cooperate with the agency and is ready to sign an additional protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which would grant broader powers to IAEA inspectors.

Mr. Rohani said that an active uranium enrichment program is vital to the nation's long-term plans for nuclear power development. These plans call for the construction of eight nuclear reactors, the first of which is expected to be completed by the end of 2004.

The United States maintains the enrichment program forms part of a secret plan by Tehran to build nuclear weapons. Iran says its program is solely for the peaceful production of electricity.