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Last Updated: Monday, 26 September 2005, 22:12 GMT 23:12 UK
Tehran warns against UN referral
A general view of Iran's first nuclear reactor, being built in Bushehr
Iran faces the threat of sanctions if it does not halt its nuclear plans
Moves to report Iran to the UN Security Council over its nuclear programme would escalate tensions in the Middle East, its vice-president has warned.

Gholamreza Aghazadeh made the statement in Vienna, where the UN's nuclear watchdog is discussing the crisis.

In Tehran, the foreign ministry threatened to prevent snap inspections of its atomic facilities by inspectors.

Iran insists its nuclear programme has no military implications, as Western countries fear.

On Saturday, the governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) approved a resolution threatening to refer Iran to the Security Council at an unspecified date.

A report to the Security Council initiates a chain of events that add volatility to an already vulnerable political situation
Gholamreza Aghazadeh
Iranian Vice-President
The council could impose sanctions.

The document says Tehran's "failures and breaches" over international nuclear safeguards "constitute non-compliance" with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The resolution was submitted by Britain, France and Germany. Twelve members of the agency's board abstained.

Agency chief Mohammed ElBaradei has said there is still room for diplomacy.

Stalemate

In his response on Monday, Mr Aghazadeh said: "A report to the Security Council initiates a chain of events... that breed tension and add volatility to an already vulnerable political situation in the region."

NUCLEAR FUEL CYCLE
Mined uranium ore is purified and reconstituted into solid form known as yellowcake
Yellowcake is converted into a gas by heating it to about 64C (147F)
Gas is fed through centrifuges, where its isotopes separate and process is repeated until uranium is enriched
Low-level enriched uranium is used for nuclear fuel
Highly enriched uranium can be used in nuclear weapons

Iran's foreign ministry said it would cease application of the NPT's additional protocol, which allows snap inspections of nuclear sites, if the IAEA reports Tehran to the Security Council.

Iran has signed - but not ratified - the additional protocol.

Tehran recently restarted work on the early stages of uranium enrichment.

Such work had been suspended since November 2004 while talks were held with the UK, France and Germany about its long-term nuclear plans.

Iran hid an uranium enrichment programme for 18 years until its activities were exposed in 2002.

Western powers fear the country wants to develop the ability to make a nuclear bomb.

Iran says its nuclear programme is purely aimed at generating electricity.




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