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Sunday, August 27, 2006

Iran says to go ahead with fuel work

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran will pursue its nuclear fuel activities despite mounting international pressure to halt the disputed operations, chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani was quoted on Sunday as saying.

"Production of nuclear fuel is our strategic aim," state radio quoted Larijani as saying.

The U.N. Security Council has demanded Iran suspend atomic fuel work by August 31 or face the threat of sanctions. The West accuses Iran of pursuing nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear work is meant only for generating power.

"Any measure to deprive Iran from its right, will not change our mind about our aim," Larijani said.

Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Reza Baqheri reiterated that Iran would never halt uranium enrichment.

"It is our red line. We will never do it," he told the official IRNA news agency.

The West's main concern is Iran's uranium enrichment program, a process that can be used to make fuel for nuclear power stations or material for nuclear bombs.

But Iran has so far refused to stop the work and shrugged off the threat of sanctions, saying it would push already soaring oil prices higher still, hurting industrial nations.

The United States has warned of swift action on sanctions. Britain, Germany and France have been less conclusive in public. But Russia and China, both trade partners of Iran, have been unwilling and could veto sanctions in the Security Council.
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