Reuters: The world must recognise Iran's right to enrich uranium for fuelling power stations, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has said, responding to a U.N. call for Iran to suspend enrichment-related activities.
But he declined to say on Wednesday when Iran would
resume enrichment ... Reuters

TEHRAN - The world must recognise Iran's right to enrich uranium for fuelling power stations, Iranian President Mohammad Khatami has said, responding to a U.N. call for Iran to suspend enrichment-related activities.

But he declined to say on Wednesday when Iran would resume enrichment, a process that can produce uranium suitable for use in atomic weapons that Washington argues Iran is building.

"The international community should recognise Iran's right to enrichment," Khatami told reporters after a weekly cabinet meeting.

"If it does so, then the way will be open for further co-operation," the mid-ranking cleric said. "Iran is ready to continue its activities under full IAEA supervision and convince the world it is not considering atomic weapons."

Khatami on Tuesday warned Iran was willing to forsake U.N. supervision and go it alone on its nuclear programme if international opposition proved too stubborn.

The United States, European Union and Russia have all urged Iran to comply with a demand from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to suspend uranium enrichment.

Although the IAEA board termed the suspension a "necessary" confidence-building measure, it observed that suspensions would be "voluntary decisions" for Iran.

Iran last year promised Britain, France and Germany it would suspend enrichment-related activities.

But the suspension lapsed and Iran returned to making parts for centrifuges that enrich uranium by spinning it at supersonic speeds. Iran has also resumed tests that will produce uranium hexafluoride, the feed gas for centrifuges.

Gholamreza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, said on Tuesday it has begun converting 37 tonnes of raw "yellowcake" uranium to process it for use in centrifuges.

Nuclear experts said this could eventually yield enough material for five nuclear warheads.