TEHRAN, Iran, AP -Iran will restart some nuclear activities, including a key step prior to uranium enrichment, despite a European agreement over its contentious atomic program, outgoing President Mohammad Khatami said Wednesday.
But Khatami told reporters that Iran has "no intention to end suspension of uranium enrichment," Khatami told reporters Wednesday.
Enrichment is a key process in the nuclear fuel cycle. Uranium enriched to low levels is used as fuel in nuclear power plants to generate electricity, but further enrichment makes it suitable for use in a nuclear bomb.
Iran has said it does not want to make atomic weapons despite American claims to the contrary. Tehran defends its right to pursue a nuclear program for peaceful purposes.
Last November, Iran suspended all uranium enrichment-related activities to build international trust and avoid possible U.N. sanctions. But it has repeatedly stated that the suspension is voluntary and temporary.
In May, European negotiators led by Britain, Germany and France secured an agreement from Iran to continue suspension of such activities in return for a comprehensive plan by Europeans by early August, including economic incentives.
But Khatami, who will be replaced by ultraconservative president-elect Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Aug. 6, said the government has already decided that uranium reprocessing activities will resume at a nuclear plant in central Iran no matter what the final European agreement entails.
"Whether the Europeans mention our right in their would-be proposals or not, we will definitely resume work in Isfahan," Khatami told a news conference after a Cabinet meeting.
"The end of the deadline is (when) the Europeans come up with their comprehensive plan," said Khatami. "It was expected that they will agree to Isfahan restarting activities. If they don”t, then the decision to resume activities in Isfahan has already been taken by the ruling system."
The Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility reprocesses raw uranium into a gas, the feedstock for enrichment.
Iran has agreed to provide guarantees to continue suspension of its uranium enrichment activities, but negotiations have made little progress because Europe insists on a permanent freeze.