CNN–Wire Staff, 05/17/2010
Iran will continue to enrich uranium to 20 percent, it said Monday, despite agreeing hours earlier to ship its low-enriched uranium to Turkey. Foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told the Islamic Republic News Agency shortly after the announcement of the deal with Turkey that Iran will not stop enriching its own uranium. “We are not planning on stopping our legal right to enrich uranium,” he told CNN by telephone.
That deal had been designed to answer international concerns that Iran was secretly trying to build nuclear weapons — a charge it has long denied. Mehmanparast said the United States and its allies should accept the proposal. “I don’t think there’s any reason why any country would reject this agreement,” he said. “This agreement is based on the same requirements and criteria as the previous proposal. This is what they had asked for. If they come back and say no then it will show they are not serious about reaching an agreement.”
Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said he hoped the deal would lead the United Nations nuclear energy watchdog to close its file on Iran “forever.”
“Foreign Minister (Manouchehr) Mottaki told U.N. Security Council ambassadors last week that this enrichment would continue regardless of any deal to resupply the Tehran Research Reactor. There is no apparent civilian use for this material and it underlines Iran’s disregard for efforts to engage it in serious negotiation,” British Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said in a statement Monday.