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Iran Says U.N. Nuclear Ban ‘Illegal’

September 19, 2004

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) _ Iran said Sunday that demands from the U.N. atomic watchdog agency that it freeze all work on uranium enrichment _ technology that can be used for nuclear weapons _ were ``illegal.″

Hasan Rowhani, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, said at a news conference that his country would nonetheless continue with its voluntary suspension of what he described as ``actual enrichment″ _ the injection of uranium gas into centrifuges.

But other activities, such as production, assembly and testing of centrifuges, were likely to continue, and he said Iran would limit its cooperation with the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency if the watchdog referred questions about its nuclear activities to the U.N Security Council for possible sanctions.

Rowhani spoke a day after the governing board of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency demanded that Iran freeze all work on uranium enrichment and said it would judge Tehran’s compliance in two months.

``We are committed to the suspension of actual enrichment but we have no decion to expand the suspension,″ Rowhani said Sunday. ``This demand is not legal and does not put any obligation on Iran. The IAEA board of governors has no right to make such a suspenion obligatory for any country.″

Iran is not prohibited from enrichment under its obligations to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. But it has for months faced international pressure to suspend such activities as a good-faith gesture.

U.S. officials are insisting the 35-member board must refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council when it meets again on Nov. 25 if Tehran doesn’t comply. Iran rejects U.S. accusations it wants nuclear weapons, saying its activities are only in pursuit of energy.

``There is no justification to refer Iran’s nuclear dossier to the Security Council,″ Rowhani said. ``If one day they refer Iran’s nuclear dossier to the U.N. Security Council, that day ... Iran will stop implementing the additional protocol and will limit its cooperation with the IAEA ....″

Under the additional protocol, Iran has agreed to unfettered inspections of its nuclear facilities.

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