An Iranian lawmaker on Saturday said the Islamic Republic has continued to enrich uranium to 20 percent purity level, reaffirming remarks made by UN nuclear watchdog diplomats Friday and contradicting a previous claim by another Iranian legislator that Tehran had halted the enrichment of near-weapons-grade uranium.
Iran's nuclear energy activities currently continue as they have in the past, Iran's Press TV cited Alaeddin Boroujerdi, chairman of the Iranian Parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission as saying.
On Tuesday, Hossein Naqavi Hosseini, a senior member of Iran's parliamentary national security commission, said Iran had stopped refining uranium above the 5 percent required for civilian power stations as it already had all the 20 percent enriched material it needed for its so-called purpose to fuel a medical research reactor in Tehran.
"The issue of suspension or halt of enrichment activities is meaningless because no production is taking place at the moment," the parliament's website quoted him as saying on Tuesday.
Boroujerdi refereed to recent talks with world powers over Iran's nuclear program, suggesting that his country had not taken any measures to curb such enrichment activities as the West has not agreed to ease crippling sanctions on the Islamic Republic.
“During the talks with the P5+1, the Islamic Republic of Iran called for the recognition of its nuclear rights and the lifting of sanctions [against the country]. We should wait for the outcome of these negotiations,” Press TV quoted him as saying.
World powers must recognize Iran's right to 20% uranium enrichment
within the country, Deputy of National Security and Foreign Policy Commission of the Iranian parliament Mansour Haqiqatpour told the country's official IRNA news agency.
According to the
lawmaker, the Islamic Republic has continued, and never halted, to enrich uranium at the 20% level for
medical purposes and to fuel Tehran's research reactor.
Haqiqatpour told IRNA that the enrichment process manufactured medicines needed by some 850,000 Iranian patients.
The United States and its European allies suspect Iran has been working towards a nuclear weapons capability, and have levied sanctions on Iran's energy, banking and shipping sectors that have battered the Iranian economy and caused a currency crisis.
The next round of talks between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council - Russia, China, France, Britain and the US - plus Germany, were set to take place in Geneva on November 7-8.
On Friday, diplomats accredited to the UN nuclear watchdog said they had no information to substantiate Hosseini's comments that Tehran has halted its most sensitive atomic activity.
An envoy in Vienna, where the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is based, said he believed Iran was continuing to refine uranium to the 20 percent threshold despite the Iranian lawmaker's comment.
The IAEA, which regularly inspects Iranian nuclear sites, has declined to comment on the issue. But several diplomats from member states said they were not aware of any such move by Iran.
Reuters contributed to this report.