Iran restarts uranium conversion programme

11 August 2005 – The International Atomic Energy Agency board is to meet this afternoon to debate the implications of Iran having removed the UN placed seals at its uranium conversion facility in Isfahan.

Conversion of uranium began soon after the IAEA installed surveillance equipment at the facility on Monday.

“We are starting work in Isfahan stage by stage as technical work requires to do so,” said Mohammed Saidi, deputy director of the Iranian Atomic Agency. “The decision is irreversible.”

It has been reported that the IAEA board will favour a diplomatic solution rather than reporting the Middle East nation to the UN Security Council. Iranian officials have long maintained that the uranium will be used purely for electricity generation and not for weapons of mass destruction.

Iran agreed to the seals being placed eight months ago as it continued a dialogue with France, Germany and the UK over a deal that would see it give up its uranium conversion programme in return for economic incentives.

Any threat of the UN imposing sanctions is thought to have been negated by Iran’s close ties with Russia and China, who could veto any proposal.

European leaders have suggested Iran imports converted uranium and called on it to look seriously at the incentives on offer. Iran, however, remains insistent on being entirely independent and not reliant on foreign fuel sources.