Hillary asks Iran to suspend uranium enrichment

Hillary asks Iran to suspend uranium enrichment Washington: Condemning Iran's move to begin uranium enrichment operations at its Qom facility in violation of its international obligation, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has asked Tehran to immediately suspend it.

"We call upon Iran to immediately cease uranium enrichment and to comply with its international nuclear obligations," Hillary said in a statement.

She said the US condemns the Iranian government's decision to begin enrichment operations at its Qom facility, an act contrary to its obligations under multiple United Nations Security Council and International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors resolutions.

"This step once again demonstrates the Iranian regime's blatant disregard for its responsibilities and that the country's growing isolation is self-inflicted," Hillary said in a statement and noted that the circumstances surrounding this latest action are especially troubling.

Iran only declared the Qom facility to the IAEA after it was discovered by the international community following three years of covert construction, she said.

Iran has announced it intends to consolidate and increase its production of uranium enriched to a near 20 per cent level at this facility, she added.

"There is no plausible justification for this production. Such enrichment brings Iran a significant step closer to having the capability to produce weapons-grade highly enriched uranium," Hillary said.

Referring to the Iranian claim that this decision was necessary to produce fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR), Hillary said this is false.

"The P5+1 has offered alternatives for providing fuel for the TRR despite Iran's longstanding refusal to fulfill its international nuclear obligations. Iran has refused these offers," she said.

Hillary also called on Iran to return to negotiations with the P5+1, prepared to engage seriously on its nuclear program, and urge Iran to reply to this effect to High Representative Ashton's letter from October 2011.

"We reaffirm that our overall goal remains a comprehensive, negotiated solution that restores confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear programme while respecting Iran's right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy consistent with its obligations under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)," Hillary said.