Tehran, Dec 30 : Iran Tuesday again rejected a deadline for the end of this year set by the world powers on a uranium enrichment deal.
"Actually we have a deadline and our deadline is that if no proper response is received (from the world powers) on the deal, then we will go on with further uranium enrichment for our Tehran medical reactor," Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters.
The US and the four other permanent members of the UN Security Council - Britain, China, France and Russia - as well as Germany, have threatened Iran with new punitive measures if it did not accept a compromise deal by the end of this year.
According to a plan brokered in October by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iran's low enriched uranium was to be exported to Russia and France for further enrichment of up to 20 percent and processing into fuel for the Tehran reactor.
"We can no longer wait and if they do not agree with the purchase or exchange, then we will do the 20-percent enrichment process by ourselves," Mottaki said.
Uranium, enriched to a higher degree of up to 90 percent, can be used to make nuclear weapons. The West fears that Iran is pursuing a clandestine nuclear weapons programme under the guise of its civilian activities.
Mottaki reiterated that Tehran would be ready to either buy the processed uranium, produce it itself or exchange it in several phases on Iranian soil as a guarantee that the deal was valid.
The world powers and the IAEA have rejected the swap being made in Iran.
Mottaki said last week that Iran was not concerned over sanction threats and could not relate Iran's national interests to decisions made by other countries.
He further reiterated that Iran would not bow to international pressure and make any concession interfering with its right to pursue civil nuclear technology.
Iran insists it has the right to pursue peaceful nuclear development as a signatory of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and IAEA member, and rejects Western charges that it has been working on a secret programme to make an atomic bomb.
However, its lack of transparency regarding its nuclear programme and refusal to suspend uranium enrichment have led to several UN Security Council resolutions imposing sanctions against the Islamic state.
Also the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation said in an interview Tuesday with the ISNA news agency that Iran would not accept any deadline.
"Iran is an independent country and the West knows well that it cannot impose any deadline on us," Ali-Akbar Salehi said.
He said that Iran would still prefer to purchase the fuel for the Tehran medical reactor, adding it would be in the interest of the West not to waste this opportunity as a first step for settling the nuclear dispute.
Salehi said that if the deal failed, Iran could make the 20 percent enrichment by itself and pointed out that "this level of enrichment would by no means be entering any military programmes".
Asked by ISNA how Iran would react to a new UN resolution and probable sanctions, Salehi said such resolutions would not stop the country's nuclear programmes.
"We have reached a stage where we have no major problems in nuclear technology. If the international situation is good, then we will go on with a faster pace and if not, then with a slower one but there will be stop," he said.
Salehi said the new uranium enrichment site of Fordo, south of the capital Tehran, would be ready within two years and the completion of 10 new uranium enrichment sites ordered by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would take up to 15 years.
He rejected speculation that Iran would withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty due to the dispute with the world powers, saying whatever faults the treaty might have, Iran would still be committed to it.(DPA)
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