Iran removes nuclear seals

Iran has removed seals from a nuclear facility and will begin research there in the coming hours, the UN nuclear watchdog the IAEA has confirmed. The move ends a two-year suspension of research, and could result in Tehran being referred to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.

Germany on Monday described Iran's planned move as "very, very ominous". Western countries fear Iran's nuclear programme could be used to make atomic bombs, but Tehran denies such a goal. It says the project is for the peaceful production of energy only.

Talks between Iran and the EU trio of Germany, France and the UK broke off last August after Iran resumed uranium conversion activity which it had suspended in 2004.

The resumption of research on Tuesday at the Natanz site suggests all of Iran's nuclear activities, apart from uranium enrichment - a key stage in making a nuclear bomb - have been revived. Iran resumed uranium conversion, an earlier stage in the nuclear fuel cycle, at its plant in Isfahan when negotiations with the European Union broke down in August.

In September the IAEA's board called on Iran to cease all nuclear fuel work, and threatened to refer Tehran to the Security Council, reports BBC news. I.L.

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