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. Iran determined to produce nuclear fuel: Larijani
TEHRAN, Aug 27 (AFP) Aug 27, 2006
Iran is determined to produce its own nuclear fuel despite the demand by the UN Security Council to halt enrichment of uranium, the country's top nuclear negotiator Ari Larijani said on national radio Sunday.

"Production of nuclear fuel is one of Iran's strategic objectives," Larijani said during a meeting with editors of leading Iranian newspapers.

"Any action to limit or deprive Iran could not force Iran to give up this goal," he added.

Enrichment of uranium is necessary to produce nuclear fuel, but the process can also be used to produce the explosive core of an atomic weapon.

Western countries, led by the United States believe, Iran is seeking to build an atomic bomb, but the Islamic republic insists it only wants civil nuclear power and has the right to master the required technology.

The UN Security Council has set a deadline of August 31 for Iran to halt sensitive nuclear activities or face possible economic sanctions.

Tehran however is refusing to suspend enrichment work.

"While cooperating with international instutions, we consider the suspension of enrichment as our red line" Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Reza Bagheri, was quoted as saying Sunday by the Iranian news agency IRNA in Damascus where he is having talks with Syrian officials.

"We insist on our right because we want to utilise nuclear technology for peaceful ends," he added.

Last week Iran formally responded to an offer backed by the five UN Security Council permanent members -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States -- plus Germany, saying it was interested in serious talks but refusing to halt enrichment.

The package offers Tehran incentives in return for a freeze of sensitive nuclear work.

However, the West's reactions to Tehran's reply did not bring much hope for a smooth settlement of the nuclear standoff.

Washington has called on the United Nations to move swiftly to impose sanctions against Iran after the August 31 deadline.

Iran resumed enrichment work in January and has succeeded in enriching uranium to the 4.8 percent level needed for fuel.

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