Iran will resume building centrifuges for its nuclear program on Tuesday despite international objections, but will continue to hold off enriching uranium, the foreign ministry said Sunday.
The announcement came days after the U.N. nuclear watchdog approved a European-drafted resolution that rebuked Iran for past cover-ups in its nuclear program.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Iran has notified the International Atomic Energy Agency of its decision, along with Britain, Germany and France.
“We declared to IAEA and the three countries that we are prepared to resume work as of June 29th,” Asefi said at a news conference.
However, he said Tehran will remain committed to suspension of actual uranium enrichment — injecting gas into centrifuges.
U.S.: Iran needs to 'fully cooperate'
The United States accuses Iran of trying to build nuclear weapons. Iran maintains its nuclear program is entirely peaceful, geared toward production of nuclear energy.
“Iran needs to come clean and fully cooperate with its international obligations,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Sunday.
“Iran’s continued failure to comply with the IAEA and continued failure to (halt) all enrichment-related reprocessing activities only reinforces the concerns we have expressed,” he added. “It runs counter to the commitment Iran has made to the international community.”
In an appearance on “Fox News Sunday,” Bush’s national security adviser Condoleezza Rice called Iran’s nuclear program a “very tough situation” but “one that still has a diplomatic solution within sight.”
“But the Iranians every day demonstrate why the United States has been so hard on them and why the president put Iran into the axis of evil when he talked about Iraq, North Korea and Iran back in his State of the Union address in January 2002.”
Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Hasan Rowhani, had said Iran was reconsidering its suspension of some uranium activity in response to the failure of the three European countries to help close Iran’s nuclear dossier.
According to Rowhani, the three European powers promised in February to work toward closure by June if Iran stopped making centrifuges. It did so in April.
Asefi insisted Iran’s nuclear policy has not changed and he stressed that the country will continue to cooperate with the IAEA.
“Nothing important has happened ... Europeans failed to respect their commitments. Therefore, there is no reason for us to keep our moral promise,” he said. “We remain committed to voluntary suspension of uranium enrichment.”
Though he was critical of Britain, France and Germany, Asefi said Iran’s new decision didn’t mean Tehran would end its dialogue with Europeans. Rather, he said, a dialogue between Iranian and European experts is planned “in the coming days.”
Asefi said Iran wants the IAEA and the three European countries to supervise Iranian building, assembling and testing of centrifuges when the program resumes.
“Concerning building and assembling centrifuges, we declared to the IAEA and Europeans that we will do that according to regulations, under IAEA supervision,” he said.
Iran suspended uranium enrichment last year under international pressure. In return, Britain, Germany and France promised to make it easier for Iran to obtain advanced nuclear technology.
Iran says it will remain committed to that suspension despite European failure to provide Iran with advanced nuclear technology.