August 21, 2006

Iran insists will not suspend enrichment: agency

By Parisa Hafezi

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran will not suspend uranium
enrichment, the main demand in a nuclear package backed by six
world powers, the deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy
Organization said on Monday.

Mohammad Saeedi said Tehran would formally respond to the
package on Tuesday, a deadline Iran had earlier set itself.

He also said Iran would press ahead with plans to produce
heavy water, a move a Western diplomat said was unhelpful in
the nuclear standoff but was not a proliferation risk.

"Considering the technical advancement of Iranian
scientists, the suspension of uranium enrichment is not
possible any more," he was quoted as saying by Iran's Fars News

Iranian officials have previously insisted Iran would not
stop enrichment, a process that has military and civilian uses,
but world powers were hoping to sway that decision.

"Iran's answer is very comprehensive and creates a very
appropriate opportunity for the West to solve Iran's nuclear
case through negotiations and dialogue," Saeedi said of the
response that will come on Tuesday.

The West accuses Iran of seeking to develop atomic weapons
under cover of a civilian nuclear program. Tehran denies it
seeks to make bombs, saying it only wants to make electricity.


In addition to concerns about enrichment, Western nations
are also worried about a heavy water nuclear reactor being
built at Arak, 120 miles southwest of Tehran. The plant's
plutonium by-product can be used to make atomic warheads.

"The major heavy water project of Iran will be inaugurated
in the very near future," Saeedi said.

Spent fuel can be processed to extract weapons-grade
plutonium. The plutonium can also be mixed with enriched
uranium to produce fuel for a special type of nuclear reactor.

But a top nuclear official said it was only the facility to
produce heavy water that would go onstream within 10 days, not
the reactor which is of concern to Western nations.

He said heavy water had no military use and so
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) supervision was not

"The product of this project provides for cooling and
depleting systems of the reactor, that can be used in various
industries," he said.

A Western diplomat agreed that the heavy water facility was
not a proliferation risk but added: "We would not see it as a
constructive gesture."

The top Iranian official said Iran would go ahead with
plans to installing new centrifuges, which enrich uranium by
spinning at supersonic speeds.

Tehran has told the IAEA it would start installing 3,000
centrifuges later this year and get them operational by 2007,
enough to produce a nuclear warhead in one year. It now
operates a single cascade of 164 centrifuges, which it has
already used to enriched uranium to levels used in nuclear
power plants.

"I can not give an exact date for installation of other
cascades, but we are going ahead as planned," the official