May 29, 2006

Iran says won’t move all atomic work to Russia

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran said on Monday it had no intention
of moving all of its uranium enrichment work to Russia to allay
the international community's fears that it could use nuclear
fuel technology to make atomic bombs.

Western countries say the only way Iran can prove it is not
seeking a bomb is for it to stop enriching uranium. But the
Islamic Republic insists it has every right to turn the uranium
ore mined in its central deserts into nuclear reactor fuel.

"There is no discussion about plans to give up enrichment
on our soil and it is a wrong argument that the enrichment
should be done in Russia," said government spokesman
Gholamhossein Elham.

"Enrichment in Iran ... will continue," he told a weekly
news conference.

A Russian offer to enrich uranium on Iran's behalf has made
little progress with Tehran saying it would be willing to pass
some but not all of its fuel work over to Moscow.

Igor Ivanov, Secretary of Russia's Security Council, held
talks with senior Iranian officials in Tehran on Sunday.

But there was no sign of a breakthrough with Iran's Supreme
National Security Council issuing a statement to say that the
two sides had agreed to continue talking.

"The general approach is that Iran's case should remain in
the (International Atomic Energy) Agency and if it does so all
international and legal supervisions will continue and that is
in everyone's interest," Elham added.

Iran's case has been referred to the U.N. Security Council
for possible sanctions. Tehran says it is developing a nuclear
program that will produce electricity, not bombs.

Angered by its referral to the world body, Tehran stopped
allowing snap U.N. checks of its atomic facilities.

Russia, a veto-wielding member of the U.N. Security
Council, has criticized Iran for enriching uranium in defiance
of the world body. However, it has some important energy ties
with Iran and opposes the use of sanctions against Tehran.

Russia is helping Iran build its first atomic power station
at the Gulf port of Bushehr and is interested in further
nuclear co-operation. Russia's LUKOIL is exploring the Anaran
oilfield in the world's fourth biggest crude producer.