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. Iran insists it wants to enrich uranium for nuclear fuel
TEHRAN (AFP) Oct 19, 2004
A top Iranian nuclear official reiterated Tuesday his government's assertion that it wants to enrich uranium to provide fuel for its future nuclear power plants.

"We are not saying we are refusing Westerners offers to provide us with nuclear fuel, but we want also to produce our own nuclear fuel... as well as buying what we lack from the West," Iranian Atomic Energy Organizationchief Gholamreza Aghazadeh said on state television.

He also denounced the "politicizing" of the Iranian nuclear case, declaring that Iran did not have "any non-peaceful nuclear activities."

His comments came as the foreign ministers of Britain and Germany issued a joint warning to Iran to address international worries about its nuclear program, serving notice that Tehran must take action immediately.

Three European Union states -- Britain, France and Germany -- are this week due to present new proposals to Iran in the hope it will halt its controversial work on the nuclear fuel cycle in exchange for possible diplomatic and trade incentives.

Aghazadeh said Iran consider the European proposals if they respected "Iran's legitimate right" to have nuclear technology and to have the fuel cycle, thus enabling Tehran to enrich uranium for its future power plants.

The uranium enrichment process produces fuel for civilian reactors but is also used for production of the explosive core of atomic bombs. Washington alleges Iran is secretly trying to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has set a November 25 deadline for Iran to suspend uranium enrichment activities and answer all questions about its nuclear ambitions.

It risks being referred to the UN Security Council, something the United States has been pushing for.

Fuel cycle work is permitted under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) -- of which the Islamic republic is a signatory -- if for peaceful purposes.

Iran agreed last October to temporarily suspend enrichment work, but has pressed on with related activities. It is also standing by what it asserts is a right under the NPT to resume enrichment.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Hasan Rowhani said on Monday that Iran was ready to discuss with Europeans the duration of uranium enrichment suspension but categorically refused a total halt of the process.

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