Iran said Sunday its nuclear activities have not halted or slowed down, rejecting reports that it has not significantly expanded its uranium enrichment program this summer as planned.“There has been no slowing down, no halt and no retreat. Our activities continue on the same basis we began our peaceful nuclear program,” Foreign Ministry Spokesman Seyed Mohammad Ali Hosseini told reporters.
Hosseini was responding to speculation that the threat of more UN Security Council sanctions may have forced Iran to slow down its uranium enrichment program.
He also accused the US of seeking to derail Iran’s talks with the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
Iran and the IAEA reached an agreement last week on a timetable to respond to remaining questions over Tehran’s nuclear activities.
The US criticized the deal saying the agreement won’t save Iran from a third set of UN Security Council sanctions for refusing to halt uranium enrichment. The remark drew criticism from a large number diplomats in Vienna, where IAEA is based, who suggested that Washington was trying to derail important progress in the Iranian nuclear negotiations in its drive to impose new UN penalties.
“Nothing else is expected from the US The trend (of talks) between Iran and the IAEA has been successful … other countries welcomed that. But Americans are making efforts to harm this trend,” Hosseini said.
The US and its allies allege that Tehran is using its civilian nuclear program as a cover to produce atomic weapons, but they have never presented any corroborative evidence to substantiate their claims. Iran strongly denies the charge, saying its program is solely geared toward generating electricity.
Iran’s agreement with the IAEA is expected to allow for easier inspection of Iran’s nuclear facilities by IAEA experts and encourage Tehran to give detailed answers on remaining questions over two decades of its nuclear activities.
Iran announced a dramatic expansion of its uranium enrichment in April, saying it has begun operating 3,000 centrifuges.
Hosseini didn’t say how many centrifuges were operating in Natanz now but experts say Iran had been expected to operate 3,000 centrifuges by now.
Centrifuges are used to enrich uranium. Uranium enriched to low level is used to produce nuclear fuel for reactors, while further enrichment makes it suitable for use in atomic weapons. Iran has only accessed the technology for low levels of enrichment.