TEHRAN (Reuters) – Iran’s foreign ministry said on Sunday Tehran would not give up its nuclear program, including uranium enrichment, despite international pressure to prove it is not developing atomic weapons.
“Abandoning peaceful nuclear activities or enrichment is not something that Iran is ready to compromise on,” foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi told a weekly news conference.
It was the latest in a series of mixed messages from Tehran since a resolution by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) this month gave Iran until October 31 to prove it has no secret nuclear arms program and told it to halt enrichment activities.
IAEA inspectors are due in Tehran Thursday for a round of further inspections and talks with Iranian officials.
If doubts remain in November about Iran’s nuclear ambitions # which Tehran insists are limited to generating electricity # it may be reported to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.
Clerical hard-liners in Islamic Iran argue that Tehran should follow North Korea’s example by pulling out of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a move which would put its nuclear program firmly underground.
But officials from the reformist government have said that while Iran is not prepared to halt its nuclear program it will cooperate with the IAEA and is considering signing an Additional Protocol to the NPT which would allow snap inspections of nuclear sites.
“We are interested in solving the issue and we believe that negotiations and talks should continue with the IAEA,” Asefi said. “If both sides talk transparently and answer some ambiguities …naturally Iran’s cooperation with the agency could bear good results.”