The removal of the final seals, which the United Nations placed on the equipment in November when Iran agreed to halt its nuclear program, came a day after the International Atomic Energy Agency held an emergency meeting in Austria to discuss ways to convince the Islamic Republic to resume its suspension.
The meeting adjourned Tuesday to give Britain, France and Germany — which are negotiating with Iran on behalf of the European Union — time to talk with other members of the 35-nation board regarding the wording of an IAEA resolution urging Iran to immediately halt its nuclear program, according to Reuters.
The deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Saeedi, confirmed Wednesday that the seals had been removed, as did an IAEA spokeswoman, according to Reuters.
“The plant is fully operational now,” Saeedi told Reuters.
The IAEA still has a surveillance system to monitor work at the plant, according to the Associated Press.
Wednesday’s action came two days after Iran resumed work at the plant in Isfahan, south of the country’s capital, Tehran. On Saturday, Iran rejected a European offer of economic and nuclear support in return for a promise the country would not pursue a nuclear program.
Iranian officials insist their intentions are peaceful, and the country does not intend to use the material to develop nuclear weapons. They say their nuclear program is only meant to produce electricity.
The United States and the European Union, however, fear otherwise. Enriched uranium, which the plant in Isfahan can develop, is a vital ingredient in nuclear weapons.
Speaking from his ranch in Crawford, Texas on Tuesday, President Bush said he was “deeply suspicious” of Iran’s intentions.
He also said he received word that Iran was willing to continue negotiations over the country’s nuclear program and called the development “a positive sign.”
The IAEA is preparing a resolution urging Iran to abandon its nuclear program, but some key member nations are balking at the severity of the wording in the text, according to news services.
An IAEA session scheduled for Wednesday was canceled and diplomats were expected to continue private discussions.
“They need more time,” IAEA spokesman Peter Rickwood said, according to the Associated Press.