Iran rejects IAEA transparency demand on atom sites

Fri Dec 4, 2009 6:58am EST
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By Parisa Hafezi

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran said it will provide the U.N. nuclear watchdog with the bare minimum of information about its plan to build 10 new uranium enrichment plants, a stance sure to stoke Western suspicions about its atomic agenda.

In a defiant response to last week's International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors vote rebuking Iran for building a second enrichment plant in secret, Tehran said on Sunday it would build 10 more sites like its IAEA-monitored one at Natanz.

In 2007, in reprisal for U.N. sanctions slapped on it, Iran renounced an amended IAEA code of conduct requiring states to notify the agency of nuclear plans as soon as they are drafted, so as to catch any illicit atomic bomb work in the early stages.

Iran reverted to an earlier IAEA transparency code mandating only 180 days notice before a nuclear site begins production.

A senior Iranian official quoted by official news agency IRNA made clear Iran would apply the minimum transparency rule to its plan for 10 more enrichment plants.

Analysts say Iran will need many years if not decades for such a huge expansion of enrichment, but fear Iran's adherence to obsolete notification rules will heighten the risk of Tehran trying to "weaponize" enrichment clandestinely.

Uranium enrichment can be calibrated to yield fuel either for nuclear power plants or the fissile core of a nuclear bomb.

A senior Iranian diplomat involved in now stalled nuclear talks with the West said Iran would continue cooperation with the IAEA only according to its 1970s basic safeguards agreement.   Continued...