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4

Iran Will Not Give Up Right To Uranium Enrichment

President Mohammad Khatami asserted that Iran would not give up its plan to enrich uranium

President Mohammad Khatami asserted that Iran would not give up its plan to enrich uranium, despite international pressure for it to abandon the sensitive nuclear activity.

"This right is enshrined in the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and we will not give it up," the president told reporters after a cabinet meeting.

"We demand that Iran's right to conduct enrichment is recognised, and when that happens we will cooperate as much as possible" with the International Atomic Energy Agency, Khatami said Wednesday.

The IAEA demanded in a resolution passed on Saturday that Iran halt its controversial uranium enrichment-related activities, a part of the nuclear fuel cycle that can be directed to both energy and weapons purposes.

Nuclear fuel cycle work, including enrichment, is permitted under the NPT if it is for peaceful purposes, but the IAEA wants such activities here stopped pending the completion of its more than 18-month-old investigation.

Iran suspended enrichment itself last year, but has continued to advance on other parts of the fuel cycle.

The clerical regime, lumped into an "axis of evil" two years ago by US President George W. Bush along with Saddam Hussein's Iraq and North Korea, denies it wants to acquire nuclear weapons and insists it is merely trying to generate electricity.

The resolution from the board of the UN nuclear watchdog also gives Iran until November 25 to clear up suspicions over its activities. Failure to do so could see the country referred to the United Nations Security Council for possible sanctions -- something the United States has been pushing for.

"I hope this will not happen," Khatami said when asked of the prospect. "We will try to make this not happen."

But he added that sending the dossier to the Security Council would "represent a failure" for the IAEA.

Iran's leadership has refused to back away from efforts to master the entire nuclear fuel cycle, and has argued that the latest IAEA demands are "illegal".