&to=http://english.pravda.ru/world/20/91/366/10083_iran.html' target=_blank>Iran denounced as "illegal" demands from the U.N. atomic-watchdog agency that it freeze all work on uranium enrichment, a technology that can be used for nuclear weapons.
It threatened to limit cooperation with the agency if the &to=http://english.pravda.ru/world/2003/01/28/42646.html' target=_blank>United Nations moves toward sanctions.
But &to=http://english.pravda.ru/cis/2002/06/14/30391.html' target=_blank>Hasan Rowhani, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, stopped short of outright rejection of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) demands and held out the possibility of negotiations.
"This demand is illegal," he said. "The IAEA board of governors has no right to make such a suspension obligatory for any country," reports The Seattle Times.
Hassan Rohani, a senior Iranian official, said no decision had been taken to "expand" Iran's freeze on the enrichment of uranium, the process which is central to building a nuclear bomb but which is allowed under international treaties to run a civilian nuclear programme.
After a week of behind-the-scenes squabbling between the US, the big European countries and non-aligned countries, the IAEA delivered a warning to Iran, ordering a prompt freeze of "all uranium enrichment-related activities" and threatening implicitly to report Iran to the UN security council in November should Tehran remain recalcitrant, informs the Guardian.
According to Indy Star, the &to=http://english.pravda.ru/world/2003/01/16/42111.html' target=_blank>International Atomic Energy Agency has expressed alarm at Iran's plans to enrich nearly 40 tons of uranium. Experts say that would be enough to provide Iran with the material for several nuclear bombs. The Iranian government, meanwhile, insists that its nuclear program is for electrical production only.