Iran to halt uranium enrichment

Iran has agreed to a European Union proposal for a full suspension of uranium enrichment – sparing itself from possible UN sanctions.

Tehran says its programme is for peaceful purposes
Tehran says its programme is for peaceful purposes

In Tehran on Sunday, nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani said Iran had agreed to suspend nearly all of its uranium enrichment-related activities.

A close aide to Rowhani, Hossein Moussavian, said Iran had accepted demands that it suspend not only enrichment itself, but also activities related to it – converting raw uranium into the feed gas for enrichment at a uranium conversion facility in Isfahan and making centrifuges used for enrichment.

“The suspension is valid for the duration of the negotiations,” he said. “This is the beginning of the normalisation of Iran’s dossier at the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency).”

Suspension remains

Moussavian said the suspension would remain in force while Iran and the European Union negotiated a long-term cooperation accord. He said these negotiations would start on 15 December.

Moussavian said the suspension would remain in effect for now

Moussavian said the suspension
would remain in effect for now

In Vienna on Sunday, UN body IAEA received an official letter from Iran confirming the suspension, a spokesman said.

Diplomats in Vienna did not give details of the letter, which still must be read by IAEA chief Muhammad al-Baradai, they said.

Iran and the European Union’s big three powers – Britain, Germany and France – have been negotiating a deal for the past few weeks under which Tehran would agree to freeze sensitive nuclear work such as uranium enrichment. 

In return, the EU would not support US calls for Iran’s case to be sent to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions and would sit down with Iran to work out a solution to the nuclear dispute.

IAEA clears Iran

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released a new report on Monday showing that while Iran had been guilty of breaching international safeguards, two years of inspection had found no proof that the country was developing any illegal weapons program.

“All the declared nuclear material in Iran has been accounted for, and therefore such material is not diverted to prohibited activities,” said the report.

The IAEA issued the report shortly after Iran announced it agreed to an offer by Britain, France and Germany to suspend uranium enrichment activities.

The report also said that Iran is willing to let the IAEA inspectors in to the country to verify the suspension as of 22 November, only three days before the agency board meeting to confirm Iran‘s suspension.

Electricity, not bombs

Iran has insisted that its nuclear ambitions are limited to generating electricity from atomic power plants, not making bombs. 

Iran has since October 2003 suspended as a confidence-building measure the actual enrichment of uranium but not support activities such as making the feed gas for enrichment and manufacturing the centrifuges that refine the uranium.

The EU is ready to offer Iran incentives such as access to nuclear fuel from international sources and even a light-water research reactor, but a diplomat said that none of these incentives were specifically mentioned in a two-page agreement reached with Iran and which obligates Iran to work towards a long-term agreement in meeting international concerns about its nuclear programme.

The incentives are to come after suspension and a long-term agreement. Iran had tried to get the incentives to come soon after suspending enrichment.

Source: Reuters

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