TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran, one step from U.N. Security Council referral, confirmed it had started processing a new batch of uranium at its Isfahan nuclear plant, chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani was quoted as saying on Friday.
"We had informed the U.N. watchdog that Iran wanted to process a new batch of uranium and we have started it," the semi-official Mehr news agency quoted Larijani as saying.
Accused by Western nations of running a covert atomic weapons program, Iran had informed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) late in October that it planned to process a new batch of uranium without giving a specific date.
Larijani did not say when the processing began. A diplomat in Vienna first announced that work was underway on Wednesday.
With the next IAEA board meeting in November approaching, France, Britain and Germany trying to agree agreement with U.N Security Council permanent members on a response to Iran”s decision to resume sensitive nuclear activities at a meeting in London on Friday.
Larijani reiterated that Iran would never give up its nuclear program, insisting that Tehran only wants the technology to generate electricity.
Iran is facing referral to the Security Council for possible sanctions after failing to convince the international community its nuclear ambitions are entirely peaceful.
But Larijani, the secretary of Iran”s Supreme National Security Council, said he was optimistic about the outcome of the IAEA”s November 24 meeting.
"I think the result of this meeting will be positive and favorable for Iran," said Larijani, who has written a letter to the so-called EU3, calling for the resumption of talks over Iran”s atomic program.
Iran had suspended activities at Isfahan facility under a 2004 November deal with France Germany and Britain, the so-called EU3, but it resumed work at the plant in August, prompting the EU3 to suspend talks with Iran.