TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran will likely resume some nuclear activities related to uranium enrichment next week, Iran’s top nuclear negotiator was quoted by the state-run news agency as saying Saturday.

Hasan Rowhani said it was unlikely the Islamic Republic will resume actual uranium enrichment – injecting uranium gas into centrifuges – but that it expects to restart activities at its uranium conversion facility in Isfahan, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

“It’s unlikely that uranium enrichment … which takes place in Natanz will be resumed but it’s likely that some activities at Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility will restart next week,” IRNA quoted Rowhani as saying.

Rowhani’s comments came the day after the latest negotiations aimed at persuading Iran to scrap its nuclear program ended in London without a breakthrough. France, Britain and Germany, acting on behalf of the 25-nation European Union, are seeking guarantees that Iran is not attempting to build an atomic bomb, as Washington suspects.

The European countries want Tehran to abandon its enrichment activities permanently in exchange for economic aid, technical support and backing for Iran’s efforts to join mainstream international organizations.

The United States last month agreed to support the EU diplomatic effort, but signaled Iran should quickly accept or face the threat of harsh U.N. Security Council sanctions.

The Iranians have warned that without success in negotiations soon, the talks would collapse. And Iran’s Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi had warned Thursday, “we will have no choice but to restart the uranium enrichment program” if talks fail.

Iran agreed in November to temporarily freeze the program so long as negotiations continued.

Rowhani called the London talks that ended Friday “perhaps the last opportunity” for an agreement and acknowledged Iran and the Europeans had failed to achieve a compromise.

“The Europeans still insist on having more time to review the details of the plan (presented by Iran),” IRNA quoted him as saying.

But a senior British Foreign Office official had said Friday that both sides had agreed to reflect on what they had discussed in the latest round and that talks would continue.

In Iran, both state-run television and the news agency reported that Rowhani was saying the activities will resume next week, though his remark as quoted by the agency appeared to leave some room for doubt.

The central cities of Natanz and Isfahan house the heart of Iran’s nuclear program. The conversion facility in Isfahan reprocesses uranium ore concentrate into gas. The gas is then taken to Natanz and fed into the centrifuges for enrichment.

Uranium enriched to low levels is used as fuel for nuclear reactors to generate electricity, but further enrichment makes it suitable for atomic bomb.


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