Iran says it won’t stop uranium enrichment ‘for a moment’

Top official’s comment follows UN nuclear watchdog’s unsuccessful attempt to restart talks

Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh (photo credit: AP/Ronald Zak/File)
Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh (photo credit: AP/Ronald Zak/File)

TEHRAN, Iran — An Iranian diplomat says Tehran will not stop uranium enrichment “for a moment,” defying demands from the UN and world powers to halt its suspect nuclear program.

The comments by Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency, come just two days after senior IAEA investigators ended two days of intensive talks with Iranian officials on allegations the Islamic Republic may have carried out tests on triggers for atomic weapons.

His remarks reiterate Iran’s longstanding assertion that its enrichment program is for producing nuclear fuel and other peaceful purposes, and thus is Tehran’s right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

Soltanieh’s comments were reported by the official IRNA news agency Saturday.

On Friday, UN experts returned from Tehran without sealing a long-sought deal that would restart a probe of suspicions that Iran worked on atomic arms, adding to doubts that upcoming separate talks between six world powers and the Islamic Republic will succeed in reducing fears about Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

Herman Nackaerts, who headed the team of International Atomic Energy Agency experts, said Friday that “Iran did not agree to allow [IAEA] inspectors into the Parchin military facility,” which is one focal point of the nuclear watchdog’s demands.

He said the two sides would meet again in the Iranian capital Feb. 12. But even if those talks make progress, they will come too late for an Iran-six nation meeting tentatively scheduled for the end of this month.

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