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. Iran refuses to abandon nuclear fuel cycle work
Iran is determined to carry out uranium enrichment and will not abandon such nuclear fuel work as a guarantee it is not making nuclear weapons, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said Tuesday.

"Iran for its part is determined to pursue all legal areas of nuclear technology, including enrichment exclusively for peaceful purposes," Kharazi told a non-proliferation conference at the United Nations.

German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer warned here Monday that resumption of any enrichment activities by Iran "would lead to a collapse of the talks" with the European Union on getting Iran to give guarantees it is not making atom bombs.

Fischer said a breakdown in negotiations would also lead to a push by Europe and the United States to take Iran before the UN Security Council for possible international sanctions.

But Kharazi said: "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" such as enrichment, which Iran claims is allowed for peaceful purposes under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

In Tehran, foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Tuesday that Iran would resume some nuclear activities suspended as part of a deal with the European Union, despite the threat of international sanctions.

Iran agreed in November last year to suspend its fuel cycle work -- the focus of international fears it may be seeking the atomic bomb -- and open talks with EU negotiators Britain, France and Germany.

But the clerical regime has since voiced frustration over the negotiations, in which the European trio is offering trade, security and technology incentives in return for "objective guarantees" from Iran that it will not develop nuclear weapons.

Kharazi said however that "cessation of legal activity is no objective guarantee against so-called break-out (capability to make nuclear weapons). It is indeed a historically tested recipe for one."

He said that Iran has done and will in the future do its enrichment work "under the fullest and most intrusive IAEA supervision," referring to the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency which verifies international nuclear safeguards.

Kharazi also took clear aim at US comments made Monday when he said: "It is unacceptable that some tend to limit the access to peaceful nuclear technology to an exclusive club of technologically advanced states under the pretext of non-proliferation."

US Assistant Secretary of State for arms control Stephen Rademaker targeted Iran on Monday, saying that, in line with the NPT, states not in compliance with nuclear safeguards should not get assistance in developing peaceful atomic technology.

"States asserting their right to receive the benefits of peaceful nuclear development must be in compliance with their nonproliferation obligations," Rademaker said.

He said that states not in compliance should be cut off from "all nuclear assistance." Russia is currently helping Iran build a nuclear power reactor.

The IAEA has however so far only judged Iran in breach of certain safeguards but not in a formal state of non-compliance.

Kharazi blasted nuclear-weapons states for not disarming as required by the NPT in what was also a clear dig at the United States, Iran's arch-enemy which accuses the Islamic republic of secretly developing nuclear weapons.

"Some nuclear-weapons states are developing new and more easy-to-use nuclear weapons," Kharazi said, referring to mini-nukes, the so-called bunker busters which Washington is thinking of making.

He said it was unfair for non-NPT states to "have unrestricted access to materials, equipment and technology, while states party to the treaty under the IAEA safeguards have been under extensive restrictions."

This was a reference to Israel getting help from the United States while Iran is under US sanctions aimed at stopping Tehran from acquiring sensitive technology.

All rights reserved. 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.

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