Iran to Suspend Uranium Enrichment Today

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New York Times: Iran pledged Sunday to meet its deadline
and suspend its uranium enrichment activities on Monday,
in a sign of cooperation even as the United States has been stepping up pressure over the country’s nuclear program.
“The suspension will begin tomorrow,” the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Assefi, told journalists. New York Times

By NAZILA FATHI

TEHRAN – Iran pledged Sunday to meet its deadline and suspend its uranium enrichment activities on Monday, in a sign of cooperation even as the United States has been stepping up pressure over the country’s nuclear program.

“The suspension will begin tomorrow,” the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Assefi, told journalists. “We have said that we will suspend our enrichment activities, and we will do it.”

Iran agreed earlier this month with Britain, Germany and France to suspend its uranium enrichment program in return for economic benefits. The country said it would halt production on Nov. 22 in a letter to the International Atomic Energy Agency, which will meet Thursday to decide whether to send Iran’s case to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions.

While Iran has insisted that its nuclear program is for electricity production only, the United States has accused it of trying to make nuclear weapons. The Bush administration increased its pressure on Iran after diplomats familiar with the country’s case accused it last week of racing to produce significant quantities of uranium hexafluoride, a gas that can be enriched for use in nuclear weapons, right up to its deadline.

An Iranian opposition group also said last week in Vienna and in Paris that Tehran was deceiving the world and conducting a secret weapons program at an undisclosed site.

Mr. Assefi dismissed accusations about its nuclear program and said the report about uranium hexafluoride production was “just a part of the propaganda to weaken relations between Iran and the agency and the work on building trust with the Europeans.”

“What we have been doing over the past few days conforms with the Paris accord and had been carried out under the supervision of the agency,” he added.

Mr. Assefi accused the United States of “trickery,” and said the Bush administration’s recent allegations about Iran’s nuclear activities were “a sign of its anger.”

“The Americans are not happy about our cooperation with the Europeans, but taking into account that we have cooperated with the I.A.E.A. and Europe, there is nothing to be worried about,” he said.

Gholamreza Aghazadeh, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, also denied the charges that Iran had accelerated enrichment activities, the official IRNA news agency reported.

A team of inspectors from the I.A.E.A. is in Iran to police the complete suspension of activities related to uranium enrichment.

In addition, a four-member group from the agency’s Board of Governors visited Iran’s conversion plant in the city of Isfahan on Saturday. The team is scheduled to return to Vienna on Monday.