Hassan Rohani, secretary-general of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council said on Saturday the programme had only been suspended.
Faced with concerted international pressure, Iran agreed last month to allow snap inspections of its nuclear sites and suspend uranium enrichment, which can be used to make fuel for nuclear reactors or bomb-grade material.
“But the issue of ending uranium enrichment is not in question and never has been nor will be,” added the mid-ranking cleric, who emerged as Iran’s key negotiator with European Union
countries over the nuclear issue.
“Our uranium enrichment programme has been suspended voluntarily, temporarily, to build trust”
The UN’s watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Wednesday condemned Iran’s 18-year cover-up of sensitive nuclear research, including uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing, and said any further serious breaches of non-proliferation obligations would not be tolerated.
But Rohani said Iran had nothing to fear from tougher inspections of its nuclear facilities and would do everything it could to help the IAEA give Iran a clean bill of health in its next report, due in February.
First reactor in 2004
Rohani said Iran’s efforts to produce its own fuel for nuclear reactors, including the development of uranium enrichment, were due to the scale of its nuclear energy plans.
“We want to have full control of the fuel cycle in Iran because we want to have eight reactors and we want to provide the fuel for at least one of those,” he said.
The first of the reactors, each of which will have a capacity of 1000 MW, is being built with Russian help near the south-western port city of Bushehr and should be completed by the end of 2004, he said.
Rohani, who noted that Iran’s plans to generate nuclear power pre-dated the 1979 Islamic revolution, said Russia had expressed interest in building a second reactor at Bushehr.
Rohani’s role in negotiating the nuclear issue has thrust him into the public spotlight and led to intense media speculation in Iran that he may run for president in 2005.