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. Iran to build more nuclear plants, won't return to freeze
TEHRAN (AFP) Sep 11, 2005
Iran is to build two more nuclear power plants, its new foreign minister announced Sunday, warning of "consequences" if his Islamic regime is referred to the UN Security Council over its nuclear fuel drive.

In his first press conference since taking office, Manouchehr Mottaki also reiterated Iran's refusal to resume the full freeze of uranium processing it observed during confidence talks with the European Union earlier this year.

"There is no question of returning to a new suspension at Isfahan," Mottaki told reporters, referring to Iran's uranium ore conversion plant.

"There is no legal basis to send the dossier to the Security Council. This would be a political move. We do not see a serious sign that this will happen.

"It is natural that such an event will have consequences, but right now I do not want to go into what the repercussions would be," he warned.

Iran's decision last month to resume conversion, the precursor to uranium enrichment, has scuttled talks with Britain, France and Germany aimed at winning guarantees that Iran's nuclear programme is peaceful.

The country also defied a resolution passed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) demanding a resumption of the processing freeze, arguing that making fuel was a right under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Mottaki said Iran would soon invite tenders from companies around the world for the construction of two nuclear power stations -- building on a move by the hardline parliament to bolster the country's claim to a nuclear programme.

Iran argues that it only wants to make nuclear fuel for peaceful purposes even though it has yet to actually build any power plants. A generator at Bushehr, being built with Russian help, is still under construction and will eventually be fired up and operated with Russian fuel.

Iranian officials have said recently that they are in talks with Russia for the construction of new facilities.

Iran's tough stance has led to threats from both US and EU leaders to ask the IAEA board of governors, when it meets in Vienna on September 19, to refer its case to the Security Council.

"Referring the case to the Security Council would be a lose-lose game, and we would prefer that this game does not happen. We see a win-win situation, that is where the EU and the international community have confidence and the Islamic Republic of Iran reaches its legitimate right," he said.

Mottaki said Iran was "in favour of unconditional negotiations with the Europeans, and we will make an effort in this regard".

The so-called EU-3 have been trying to convince Iran to totally abandon nuclear fuel work -- which can be diverted to military purposes -- in exchange for a package of trade, diplomatic, security and technological incentives.

Iran says these conditions are unacceptable.

Iran's new hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has pledged new proposals to resolve the row, and Iran seems determined to widen negotiations beyond the EU-3 to include members of the Non-Aligned Movement -- such as South Africa and Malaysia -- which are more sympathetic to the Iranian position.

"As for a widening of the negotiations, we have a positive view but this should take place in agreement with other parties," Mottaki said.

"President Ahmadinejad's initiative is being prepared, and it will be released in a few days during the meetings of heads of states at the United Nations in New York," he added.

When asked if Iran would consider talking to arch-enemy the United States, he said a "change could be examined but we have not made any such demand".

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