Iran plans nuclear sites amid diplomatic flurry


Iran has approved several new sites for uranium enrichment. A spokesman for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said construction will start when the president gives the word. Meanwhile, the country is holding talks with United Nations Security Council members to try to prevent a fourth round of sanctions.


The project was announced pending the president’s approval on 22 February by the head of the Iranian atomic energy organisation, Ali Akbar Salehi.

Iran said it will hold talks with all 15 members of the Security Council to break a deadlock over nuclear fuel. Foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki said a deal could be done in two weeks.

Iran is holding direct talks with 14 other members of the council and indirect talks with the US, which does not have have diplomatic ties with Iran.

But Iran’s commerce minister, Mehdi Ghazanfari, has compared western sanctions against his country to struggling in quicksand.

He said this weekend that Iran can get hold of dual use goods even if sanctions are imposed. The country is seeking stronger ties with China.

Ghazanfari said Iran had decided to look east even before sanctions were imposed.

“Iran’s ties with China are very deep and very expansive," he said. "However, there are many ways we haven’t tried yet. I’ve been told there are a lot of investors on their way. I believe we have a lot we can do with China.”

Last year China was Iran’s number one trade partner, with 21.2 billion dollars in bilateral trade. China is the only one of five countries with the right to veto at the United Nations Security Council.

On 30 November 2009, Ahmadinejad announced 10 new enrichment sites in response to an International Atomic Energy Agency resolution condemning Iran's nuclear position.

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