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Iran seeking nuclear restart

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(CNN) -- Iran's chief nuclear negotiator has told the European Union that Iran would like to resume its uranium enrichment program within the framework of EU negotiations, according to a report from Iranian state media.

The White House Monday warned Iran against resuming uranium enrichment, saying it could face sanctions from the U.N. Security Council if it resumes nuclear fuel work.

Washington has accused Iran of concealing a nuclear weapons program, but the Islamic republic has insisted it wants to develop nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and maintains it has a right to do so.

In a letter to EU foreign and security policy chief Javier Solana, Hassan Rowhani said: "The Islamic Republic of Iran strongly desires to resume its uranium enrichment activities within the framework of the discussions with (the EU) and is prepared to use goodwill so that the discussions with the three European countries in this regard can be done quickly."

Rowhani is the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council.

Earlier Wednesday, a spokesman for Iran's Supreme National Security Council reiterated his country plans to resume nuclear activities at its Isfahan plant, possibly as soon as Wednesday, calling an International Atomic Energy Agency request for a delay unacceptable.

In response, IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said: "We have made it clear that we need until the middle of next week to get our surveillance equipment in place before any seals could be cut and nuclear activities started. The agency calls on Iran again not to start any activities in Isfahan before the IAEA inspection system is in place."

The seals on nuclear program-related materials at the Isfahan plant were placed by United Nations monitors, and breaking them would mean a resumption of nuclear activity.

On Monday, the head of the Vienna-based agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, appealed to Iran not to resume uranium work and to give European Union countries more time to negotiate an extension of a November agreement.

But the spokesman for Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Ali Aghamohammadi, said that request was unacceptable, pointing out activities would take place under IAEA inspectors already in place at Isfahan.

Germany, France and Britain -- known as the EU-3 -- have been involved in negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program. The EU-3 faced a Monday deadline for presenting a proposal of nuclear, economic and political incentives in exchange for a permanent freeze of Iran's uranium enrichment program.

In November, Iran agreed to a temporary suspension while negotiations on a comprehensive proposal continued. But, since the EU-3 missed the Monday deadline, it says it is no longer bound by any agreement.

Work at the Isfahan plant in central Iran will include uranium conversion, not uranium enrichment -- the next step after conversion. In uranium conversion, uranium is converted into UF-6 gas, which can be enriched to make fuel for generating electricity. The gas, however, can also be used to create highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons.

Despite the fact that Isfahan is not a uranium enrichment facility, it still falls under a political agreement, and an IAEA resolution, for Iran to suspend "enrichment-related activities," Fleming told CNN.

U.S. officials said Tuesday that Iran told the IAEA that it would delay -- for at least a few days -- breaking the seals at the Isfahan plant.

Journalist Shirzad Bozorgmehr contributed to this report.

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