Including the enrichment of uranium, which the United States and Europe says is a part of a nuclear weapons plan.
Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said his Iran is “determined to pursue all legal areas of nuclear technology, including enrichment, exclusively for peaceful purposes” and called attempts by the international community to curtail Iran’s nuclear ambitions “unacceptable.”
The Associated Press reported that a government spokesman in Tehran said Iran would resume nuclear activities it halted during recent talks with European negotiators, but would not re-start uranium enrichment right away.
U.S. officials at the U.N. conference in New York said that Iran must stop its uranium enrichment program for good.
Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control Stephen Rademaker said any deal with Iran “must include permanent cessation of Iran’s enrichment and reprocessing efforts, as well as dismantlement of equipment facilities related to such activity.”
Kharrazi said Iran will provide assurances that its nuclear development activities are peaceful but it would not stop what he called legal activity under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
The treaty allows nuclear development activities for peaceful purposes, but experts, like the International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei, have said there is a fine line between peaceful programs and those aimed at weapons development. ElBaradei has proposed a system in which groups of countries would monitor those pursuing peaceful nuclear programs under the treaty.
President Bush has proposed going beyond the treaty to ban all nuclear programs that could be converted to weapons productions.
Both plans have angered nations like Iran, who say nuclear powers are simply trying to prevent other countries from pursuing scientific research. Kharrazi criticized nations that seek “to limit the access to peaceful nuclear technology to an exclusive club of technologically advanced states under the pretext of nonproliferation.”
He said Iran stands by the treaty and it is large nations with nuclear weapons who pose a major threat to global peace and security. The foreign minister called on the United States and other countries to enter a formal agreement not to attack non-nuclear states like Iran.
The dispute with Iran has dominated the early part of a three week-long conference aimed at hammering out a framework for all nuclear activity around the world. The United States and other nations have said that Iran and North Korea have used the treaty’s provisions for peaceful nuclear activity to hide programs aimed at producing weapons.
Some less-developed nations such as Iran have said those nations that already have nuclear weapons have hypocritically taken advantage of the treaty in order to create large weapons stockpiles.
Rademaker countered that for “almost two decades Iran has conducted a clandestine nuclear weapons program” buying parts and technology from an “illicit” global black market.