While it has announced it is resuming uranium enrichment, Iran has said it could take some time before it reaches industrial-scale production of atomic fuel. The Iranian parliament passed a law in November that it should resume the process if Tehran was referred to the UN Security Council over its nuclear programme – that was the case earlier this month.
However, a senior Iranian official has said no work has actually started at the main facility in Natanz which needs to be upgraded after a two and a half year break. The West fears Iran’s aim is develop the atomic bomb. Tehran denies this saying the programme is needed to produce more electricity.
Russian president Vladimir Putin and French prime minister Dominique de Villepin, who is on a visit to Moscow, have called on Tehran to cease all activities connected with the enrichment and processing of nuclear fuel. The Kremlin has offered to enrich uranium on Tehran’s behalf in a bid to guarantee it would not be diverted into arms. But Tehran has deferred negotiations with Moscow until next week, giving no sign it intends to give up its right to enrich uranium. Some analysts say Iran is trying to drag out talks with Russia hoping the diplomatic activity will defer any Security Council action.