TEHRAN, Iran – Iran's top nuclear official said Saturday that his country will enrich uranium and produce nuclear fuel despite the U.S.-led international campaign to persuade it to abandon such ambitions.
Gholamreza Aghazadeh, head of the Atomic Organization of Iran, gave no date for when the processes would start but stressed they would do so at some stage.
"For me, there is no doubt that the process of producing nuclear fuel in Iran will be accomplished," Aghazadeh told a news conference. "There is no doubt that we have to carry out uranium enrichment."
Iran has been under intense pressure to curb its nuclear program, which the United States claims is part of an effort to produce weapons. Iran says its program is aimed at generating electricity.
While Iran froze its enrichment program a year ago as a goodwill gesture, it restarted uranium conversion — a step toward enrichment — in August. Enrichment can produce fuel for either nuclear reactors or atomic bombs.
Aghazadeh, who is also an Iranian vice president, said Iran would refrain from either process during upcoming Iranian talks with European negotiators.
No date has been set for the talks between Iran and the EU3 — France, Germany and Britain — which broke off in August. They had been set to resume in early December but did not. The parties maintain they are committed to resuming negotiations.
Aghazadeh further said Iran plans to construct a 460 megawatt nuclear power plant based on domestic technology in Dar Khovin, in Khuzestan province in southwestern Iran.
Iran wants to produce 2,000 megawatts of electricity through the construction of nuclear power plants with foreign help, he added.
The International Atomic Energy Agency has warned Iran that its nuclear program could be referred to the U.N. Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions on the country.
Iran has also said it will not consider a European proposal that its uranium enrichment be moved to Russia to ensure it cannot be secretly used for weapons.