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Hague criticises Iran over uranium operations.

FOREIGN SECRETARY William Hague last night said he was "extremely disappointed" by Iran's decision to carry out high-level uranium enrichment and branded it a "provocative act".

A United Nation's nuclear watchdog confirmed yesterday that the process is under way in a fortified underground bunker near the holy city of Qom.

The "clandestine nature" of the activity undermines Tehran's claims that its nuclear programme is entirely civilian, Mr Hague said.

He claims Iran can provide "no credible rationale" for producing such quantities of 20% enriched uranium, which can be turned into fissile warhead material, and called on it to stop production immediately.

Mr Hague said: "I am extremely disappointed by Iran's decision to start enrichment operations at its Qom facility.

"At a time when the international community is asking Iran to provide assurances of the peaceful nature of its programme, this is a provocative act which further undermines Iran's claims that its programme is entirely civilian in nature.

"Iran only acknowledged the facility at Qom after its existence became known. Its size, location and clandestine nature raise serious questions about its ultimate purpose.

"Iran can provide no credible rationale for producing so much 20% enriched uranium.

"Iran already has sufficient enriched uranium to power the reactor for more than five years and has not even installed the equipment necessary to manufacture fuel elements." Earlier, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei insisted Iran would not bow to pressure from the West.

"The Islamic establishment...

knows firmly what it is doing and has chosen its path and will stay the course," he said in a speech broadcast on state television.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that the enrichment process was under way at the underground Fordo plant.
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Jan 10, 2012
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