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. Iran will make own nuclear fuel if IAEA deal fails: cleric
TEHRAN, Nov 28 (AFP) Nov 28, 2009
Iran will produce its own enriched uranium for a medical research reactor in Tehran if the UN atomic watchdog fails to provide the nuclear fuel, a senior hardline cleric said on Saturday.

Ahmad Khatami, speaking at a Tehran University prayer service to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha, warned world powers that Iran will not be cowed by threats or swayed by "bribery" to give up its right to nuclear technology.

He was responding to a resolution adopted on Friday by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) demanding that Iran halt construction of a new uranium enrichment facility near the Shiite holy city of Qom.

The resolution was "completely political and not technical in nature," Khatami said.

Addressing the IAEA, he said "it is your obligation, under the law, to provide fuel for the Tehran reactor.

"If you did this, the issue would be closed. If you do not cooperate, you should know that the nation ... which achieved its rights to technology will also provide fuel for its reactor. It is legal."

The IAEA had brokered a plan under which Russia would lead a consortium that would enrich uranium for the Tehran reactor.

Iran rejected that proposal, which would have involved it shipping low-enriched uranium abroad and receiving a more highly enriched version in exchange.

And the agency has rebuffed a counterproposal under which an exchange would take place on Iranian soil.

Uranium enrichment is the process used to make fuel for nuclear power plants, but when extended it can also produce fissile material for an atomic bomb as well as potentially supplying the medical research reactor.

Western powers have long suspected that Iran is trying to build a nuclear bomb, although the Islamic republic denies the charge, and Tehran's disclosure in September of the previously secret new plant triggered widespread outrage.

Iran vehemently denies that its atomic programme has military aims and insists it has the right to enrich uranium and make nuclear fuel.

Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, reiterated on Saturday that his country would in future limit its cooperation with the agency to the terms of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which it is a signatory.

"We will limit (our cooperation) to our commitments under the framework of inspections within the NPT," Soltanieh told Iranian state television.

Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast has said Iran does "do not deem it necessary to fully carry out (our) commitments to the agency if Iran's basic rights as a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty are not met."

Iran has already been enriching uranium for several years at another plant in the central city of Natanz, in defiance of three sets of UN sanctions.

In February 2006, the IAEA referred Tehran to the UN Security Council over its refusal to suspend enrichment or to agree to full IAEA inspections. The new resolution will likewise be reported to the Security Council.

Hossein Ebrahimi, a member of parliament's national security and foreign policy commission, quoted by ISNA news agency, said the house would decide on Sunday on how to respond to the latest IAEA resolution.

Another member of the commission, Mohammad Karamirad, said parliament would consider quitting the NPT.

"If the other side wants to continue their cooperation this way and creates problems and adopts resolutions, one of the solutions that parliament will definitely examine is quitting the NPT," Karamirad said.

Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and high-ranking national security officials have the final say on decisions over nuclear activities and cooperation with the IAEA.

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