In a fresh display of brinksmanship, Iran on Monday postponed talks with Moscow on a plan to enrich its uranium in Russia to allay concerns it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
The talks with Russia were scheduled for Thursday but have been postponed indefinitely because of the "new situation," said presidential spokesman Gholamhossein Elham. The "new situation" is language Iran uses for a decision earlier this month by the International Atomic Energy Agency's to report Iran to the UN Security Council because of uncertainty about Tehran's nuclear intentions.
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Iran strongly protested the referral to the Security Council, which was supported by Russia, an old ally of Tehran.
Also Monday, diplomats told The Associated Press in Vienna, Austria, that Iran has started small-scale enrichment of uranium.
"Uranium gas has been fed into three machines," one senior diplomat familiar with Iran's nuclear file said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on the matter.
To produce significant amounts of enriched uranium, gas must be fed into hundreds of such machines. Uranium enriched to a low degree can be used for nuclear reactors, while highly enriched uranium is suitable for warheads.
Iran had warned it would resume large-scale enrichment of uranium after the International Atomic Energy Agency reported it to the UN Security Council earlier this month.
The IAEA is due to issue a report on Iran at its March meeting, after which the Security Council is expected to consider taking steps against the country.
Tehran repeatedly has stressed the nuclear arms control treaty allows it to pursue a nuclear program for peaceful purposes and says it will never give up the right to enrich uranium to produce nuclear fuel. The US, its European allies and Israel believe Iran is seeking to develop atomic weapons.