August 6, 2006

Iran vows more atom work

By Christian Oliver

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran vowed on Sunday to expand its
atomic fuel work and warned that any U.N. sanctions aimed at
halting its uranium enrichment would incur a painful riposte,
possibly including a cut in oil exports.

Chief nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani said Iran would
expand the number of atomic centrifuges it was running.
Centrifuges enrich uranium by spinning it at supersonic speeds.

"We will expand nuclear technology at whatever stage it may
be necessary and all of Iran's nuclear technology including the
(centrifuge) cascades will be expanded," he told a news

Such remarks flatly reject a U.N. Security Council
resolution demanding Tehran halt its nuclear work by August 31
or face the threat of sanctions. The West fears Iran will use
enriched uranium to make atomic bombs.

Iranian officials, who argue they need enriched uranium
only to run power stations, say the resolution was illegal and
that Tehran has every right to produce fuel from the uranium
ore that it mines in its central deserts.

Iran said in April it had produced enriched uranium from a
cascade of 164 centrifuges.

It has told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
it will start installing 3,000 centrifuges later this year,
enough to produce material for a nuclear warhead in one year.


Larijani said the expansion of atomic work would be
conducted under the supervision of the IAEA but even that could
be in question if Iran felt unfairly treated.

"We do not want to end the supervision of the agency, but
you should not do anything to force Iran to do so," he said.

He warned the U.N. Security Council not to impose sanctions
on the world's fourth biggest exporter of crude oil.

"If they do, we will react in a way that would be painful
for them. They should not think that they can hurt us and we
would stand still without a reaction," he said.

"We do not want to use the oil weapon, it is they who would
impose it upon us. Iran should be allowed to defend its rights
in proportion to their stance," he added.

Although Iran has intermittently threatened to use its
massive oil exports as a weapon in international diplomacy,
Tehran receives 80 percent of its export earnings from energy
and would find such a cut hard to maintain.

"Do not force us to do something that will make people
shiver in the cold. We do not want that," said Larijani,
stressing Iran's reluctance to cut energy supplies.

Iranian officials often say that sanctions would hurt the
West more than Tehran by lifting already high oil prices to
levels that would be unmanageable for industrialised economies.

However, analysts and diplomats point out Iran's economy
would be highly vulnerable to sanctions on gasoline imports,
European financing and industrial components.