October 5, 2008 / 2:19 PM / 11 years ago

Iran says it will not stop uranium enrichment

A technician works inside a nuclear power plant in Bushehr, about 755 miles south of Tehran, April 3, 2007. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran will not stop uranium enrichment even if it is guaranteed supplies of nuclear fuel from abroad, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said on Sunday.

Iran’s ambassador to the U.N. nuclear watchdog, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, was quoted as saying on Thursday in Brussels that Iran would consider renouncing enrichment if it was assured of fuel supplies from abroad.

But Mottaki, asked on Sunday whether Tehran would shelve enrichment with such a guarantee, said: “No ... Iran’s uranium enrichment policy remains unchanged. Enrichment will continue until Iran becomes self-sufficient in fuel production for nuclear plants.”

Iran says it needs to master nuclear fuel-cycle technology to supply nuclear power stations. The United States and its European allies fear the Islamic state is trying to build bombs under cover of its nuclear program.

Tehran has been hit by international sanctions for refusing to suspend enrichment, a process which can be used to make both fuel for reactors and the fissile core of an atom bomb.

“As soon as we become self-sufficient in fuel production, we are ready to supply it to countries in need,” Mottaki told reporters.

Iran on Sunday condemned a nuclear deal between the United States and India. The deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization Mohammad Saeedi said it violated the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Saeedi said transferring nuclear technology to nuclear-armed India, which unlike Iran has not signed the NPT, would undermine the treaty.

The U.S. Senate approved a landmark deal on Wednesday ending a three-decade ban on U.S. nuclear trade with India.

Writing by Parisa Hafezi; editing by Andrew Roche

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