Crisis looms as Iran resumes nuclear work
Iran put itself on a collision course with the West after it resumed ultra-sensitive nuclear fuel work at its uranium conversion plant in Isfahan despite warnings from the international community.
"Iran has resumed the conversion of uranium under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency," the vice-president of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency Mohammad Saidi told journalists.
The move, which risks seeing Iran hauled before the UN Security Council, comes after Iran rejected as "unacceptable" a package of EU proposals aimed at guaranteeing that it was not trying to build a nuclear weapon.
Iran had insisted it would resume the process despite numerous warnings from the United States and the Europeans.
Conversion turns uranium ore or yellowcake into a feed gas for enriching uranium, which can be the fuel for reactors or the explosive core of atom bombs.
IAEA inspectors installed security cameras to monitor the initial conversion process and an AFP correspondent saw technicians in protective clothing opening a barrel of yellowcake.
The EU, which has been negotiating with Iran for nine months, had already called for an emergency meeting Tuesday of the IAEA board during which an ultimatum demanding a commitment to suspend nuclear fuel work is expected.
The crisis has escalated since Iran's ultra-conservative President Mahmood Ahmadinejad took office last week, with the new leader on Monday putting a fellow hardliner in charge of the nuclear dossier.
A government spokesman said Ali Larijani, a former boss of state-run media who has distinguished himself by his intransigency over Iran's nuclear ambitions, would soon take up the post.
Larijani replaces Hassan Rowhani, who has managed to maintain dialogue with the West through thick and thin over the last two years, and his appointment will worry some Western negotiators.
Larijani has described giving up Iran's right to uranium enrichment in exchange for EU incentives as like swapping "a pearl for a sweet".
Iran had agreed in November to suspend uranium conversion and enrichment while negotiations on its nuclear programme were under way with the EU-3 of Britain, France and Germany.
But last week it rejected an EU package of trade, technology and security incentives to abandon the nuclear fuel cycle work, sparking warnings that negotiations with the EU could be over and cause Security Council intervention.
Iran's conservative-controlled parliament had demanded that uranium conversion resume ahead of Tuesday's meeting of the IAEA governors, outside the watchdog's supervision if necessary.
The EU incentives, backed by the United States, aim to allow the Islamic republic the right to pursue peaceful nuclear energy activities as long as it refrains from fuel-cycle work that could help it make atomic weapons.
The United States, which is not a party to the EU offer, charges that Iran is using its civilian programme as a cover to secretly develop nuclear weapons, something Iran has always denied.
Saidi said that Iran had started processing uranium into a substance called uranium tetrafluoride (UF4) and would then begin turning into the feed gas known as uranium hexafluoride (UF6) by Wednesday.
He said the production would be stocked in Iran for use when the country resumes enrichment, adding that there was never any intention of it being exported.
Tehran insists however that actual enrichment remains suspended at the underground Natanz plant and that it still wants to pursue negotiations with the Europeans.
Foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Sunday that Iran, which insists it has the right to enrich uranium under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, was unconcerned about possible Security Council action.
"If one day, Iran's case is referred to the UN Security Council, we are not worried. If the Europeans choose this way, it's up to them to see if it is to their benefit or not," he said.
Copyright © 2005 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AFP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of Agence France Presse.
Copyright © 2005 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.
Wing Attack Plan 'R'
we'll see what happens I guess
They just don't seem to get it, we were not making a suggestion. If they get operational nukes Israel will light them up and then the whole world is going to catch fire, literally.
What it it the left wing dimokrats begin to chant at this point?
"Bush is doing it again."
"Iran is a peace loving country with no interest in exploding atomic bombs in America."
"Where are the WMDs?"
"Bush is trying to widen the war for oil."
"Where is the exit stratagy?"
"How many more millions must die in this war before Bush's taste for the blood of our children is sated?"
"Iran has no bombs and the breeder reactors are for making atomic fuel for the reactors to be able to generate electricity ........." (In a country where gas turbine or steam plant, oil fueled,boilers would be the norm at 10% of the cost of building nuc plants.)
Or the one I alwas cherish:
"The iranians ........SAY...........that the bomb grade uranium/plutonium is for power generation.........lets all believe them."
A storm is coming.
If they get operational nukes... Israel will get lit up too dont you think???
I find that highly unlikely... Every one isn't going to simply starting shooting off nukes, most people in this world still want to live on it even china.
While i agree with you, careful with your facts. The Russians are constructing a Light Water Reactor (LWR) which is not a breeder reactor. Breeder reactors use heavy water or graphite as a moderator. Iran is, however, building a heavy water research reactor capable of producing about one bombs worth of plutonium each year. It wont be finished for several years.
Secondly, if they engage in uranium enrichment to produce "fuel", it doesnt mean they will create highly enriched uranium. If they enrich it to 3.5 -5 % U-235, it can be used for reactor fuel. If enriched further, to 90 - 95 %, then it can be used as fissile material for bombs. There is a difference.
Of course, we could never trust them to refrain from enriching uranium to bomb grade levels.
From the Times:
August 08, 2005
Iran nuclear plant restarts processing uranium
By Jenny Booth, Times Online and agencies
Iran today began processing uranium again at its nuclear plant near Isfahan, defying warnings from Europe and the United States that it was risking UN sanctions.
Work resumed at Isfahan promptly after inspectors from the UN nuclear watchdog finished installing surveillance equipment there.
Iran had suspended work at the plant and its other nuclear facilities in November to avoid UN sanctions and as a gesture in negotiations with the Europeans.
"The Uranium Conversion Facility restarted its work a few minutes ago," the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
The facility, in a dry industrial area 15 km southeast of Isfahan in central Iran, converts raw uranium, known as yellowcake, into gas, the feedstock for enrichment.
In the next stage of the process - which Iran has said it will not resume for the time being - the gas is fed into centrifuges for enrichment. Uranium enriched to a low level is used to produce nuclear fuel and further enrichment makes it suitable for use in atomic bombs.
America and Israel say that they suspect that Iran is trying to manufacture nuclear weapons. Britain, France and Germany have been in talks with the Tehran government for two years in order to end the row.
Hopes for an end to the rumbling crisis took a blow when Tehran said publicly on Saturday that it would reject the EU proposals, that offered it economic and political incentives to halt nuclear fuel work for good.
At the Isfahan plant today two workers wearing white overalls, face masks and hard hats lifted a barrel full of uranium yellow cake, opened its lid and fed it into the processing line. Other workers at the plant watched excitedly via closed circuit television screens.
A nuclear scientist at the site, who declined to be named, said: "I am excited, I didn’t believe it until the last moment thinking this may not happen, but now I am very happy."
Earlier a journalist with the Reuters news agency, among a small group of local and foreign reporters invited to visit the plant, said that it was surrounded by dozens of anti-aircraft batteries, patrolled by heavy security and surrounded by barbed wire fences.
Iran denies that its nuclear programme is a front for bomb-making. It says it needs to develop nuclear power as an alternative energy source to meet booming electricity demand and preserve its oil and gas reserves for export.
It has offered to export the uranium hexafluoride produced at Isfahan to allay Western concerns that it could be enriched into bomb-grade material.
Thank you for your correction.
Iranians in posession of anything more radioactive than the face of a timex watch is unacceptable.
Having the facilities (known and unknown) to produce anything that is even remotely harmful to the world is like allowing a lunatic acess to matches and gasoline.Even ....IF....the Iranians only "jacket' a Simtex core of conventional explosives with enriched uranium and set it off in Manhatten..........that would be a SERIOUS "dirty bomb."
The Russians are "Missing" some fissile material/hydrogen bombs I believe.........gee wonder where those bombs/material will end up?
Iran has no interest or desire in exploding nuclear weapons in America or anywhere else. They want them as the ultimate insurance policy, which is exactly why everyone else who has them keeps them.
Insurance policy my ass. They would love to build one and slip it to a cell that would use it against us. IRAN CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO PRODUCE NUKES.
I already gots my weapons grade plutonium. I've saved a fortune on candles because of it.
Guess you didn't see the quotes from the guy who was just "elected" leader 0f Iran.
Yes, that's it. The Iranians are after the bomb just so they can commit suicide. If Iran wanted to set off a dirty bomb in Manhattan they could have done it by now. They don't do it because they have no interest in committing suicide. Their leadership are pragmatists and want nukes as an insurance policy.
The nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea have already worked. They are the targets of empty rhetoric and spineless leadership precisely because they have nuclear insurance already.
The best outcome would obviously be no nuclear weapons for Iran. But if they want them they'll get them and there is nothing America or anyone else can do to stop them. Just as India and Pakistan got them, Iran and North Korea will if they want them. And when they get them they wont use them any more readily than any other nuclear power.
If that were the case, then why hasn't Iran already equipped its terrorist henchmen with chemical or biological weapons? Certainly, they would be even easier to track. Iran certainly has the capability to produce both.
The best way to beat Iran is to open them up to trade. American cuture is the most powerful tool in this country's arsenal.
Why would they waste enriched uranium for use in a dirty bomb??? That does not make sense at all
Secondly, that the Iranians have a nuclear power program is not the concern. The production of fissile material is what is troubling. If they only possess Light Water Reactors, which are proliferation resistant (I can explain why if you like), and they return the spent reactor fuel to russia, there is no real concern about them possessing them.
If Iran agrees to the above, and agrees to forgo enriching their own uranium, then they would no longer be engaged in work that could produce fissile material, and therefore be unable to produce a bomb.
This is exactly what the Europeans offered them. Access to fuel for their reactors and to help them build Light water Reactors, among other benefits (much like what we offered North Korea under Clinton).
The Iranians rejected this... and technically they are right. They are under no legal obligation to forgo enrichment under the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Its a loophole in the treaty
I call bullshitt Slogger. If Iran could secretly loose a nuke to a terror cell that would bring it here, they would in a heartbeat. Seems you have a different opion of the Iranian government. They are extremist, they hate the western world.
Why would they do that... they would be signing their own death warrant. They aren't suicidal. They understand that would lead to their annihilation. And before you point out that they are no different than Arabs blowing themselves up, they are different. They are persians first off; secondly, you don't hear of any Iranian suicide bombers in the news. Third, Iran has a legitimate proportion of its population that is pushing for democracy and hates what they government is doing. Fourth, the regime itself, in it dealing with its nuclear program, has shown to be very shrude and practical, and has acted as a very rational actor.
All of which cast serious doubt on the possibility of them attempting to use nukes on the US.... at least unprovoked.
Never really thought Iran quit their research.
What I am saying is that if Iran had the chance and could supply a small yield nuke, that could not be traced back to them, yes they would do it tomorrow.
Yes they do hate the Western world. They are also pragmatists who have survived for 26 years precisely because they aren't idiots. Notice how Saddam Hussein didn't use bio or chemical weapons in the Gulf War? Precisely because he knew he'd face overwhelming destruction.
The Iranian regime are scum, but they are also smart and survivors. They wouldn't try and smuggle a nuclear weapon in to any Western city precisely because they know weapons can be traced after detonation as well as before.
And you know this how??? We dont know that... no one can know that for sure. Unless of course you have access to Iran's Supreme National Security Council minutes of their meetings
It is one thing to say we cant trust them with nukes. It is another entirely to say as soon as they get them they will attack us with them. I call
The real reason we do not want them to have nukes is because it would provide them with a nuclear umbrella with which they could engage in a more aggression and active foreign policy. We are afraid that with a nuclear umbrella, Iran would feel shielded from possible retribution for providing increased support to anti-israeli groups and other measures that run counter to our interests. For example... they could shut down the straights of Hormouz and state that if the USN intervened, they would nuke Israel and our troops in Iraq.
This is why we dont want them to have nukes.... not because we are afraid of an attack on the CONUS.
Precisely. The way to prevent that is to change the power dynamic in Iran and engender a economically and politically powerful civil society with diffuse power bases.
Their economy is in the doldrums and if they were really interested in causing troule they could incite Shitte rebellian in Iraq. Although, i'm sure they are setting up the groundwork now.
Iran probably does not want a meltdown in Iraq precisely for the same reason no one does.
what we need to do is keep them uke free till we have reduced our oil consumption by staring new nuclear reactors in this country.
Big trouble on the horizon. The Israelis aren't going to like this.
Fox news tonight..."If" American takes military action against Iran"
Any bets how long it will be, before we are at war with them too?
We'll see how much good that will do us.
Iran Defies West, Resumes Nuclear Work
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer1 hour, 48 minutes ago
Iran stepped up its confrontation with the West over its nuclear program, restarting work at a uranium conversion facility Monday in a move the United States and Europe have warned will prompt them to seek U.N. sanctions.
The resumption strikes a blow at European efforts to persuade Iran to rein in a program that Washington says is intended to develop nuclear weapons. Over the weekend, Iran, which says it aims only to produce electricity, rejected European proposals for economic incentives in return for limiting its nuclear activities.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, will hold an emergency meeting of its 35-member board of governors Tuesday to discuss the standoff with Iran.
Critics of Tehran question why Iran, which has vast reserves of petroleum, would need nuclear energy. Iran has responded by pointing out that it was Washington which first urged it to pursue a nuclear energy program while the pro-U.S. shah was in power.
France, Germany, Britain and the United States are likely to push for Iran to be referred to the U.N. Security Council, where they could seek new economic sanctions. But sanctions are far from a sure thing: Russia, which has helped Iran build its first nuclear reactor, and China, which has been strengthening ties with Tehran, hold veto power in the council.
"I think Iran should really bear in mind that this step is a step in the wrong direction," German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said, according to ZDF television. But he suggested negotiations could continue, saying: "We are trying to prevent a negative trend with fatal consequences."
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy urged Tehran to reconsider, saying it wasn't too late to turn back. "I call on Iran one more time, tonight, to listen to the voice of reason," he said.
Tehran suspended its nuclear activities in November to avoid sanctions and as a gesture in the negotiations with Europe. But it has expressed frustration with the talks and has been threatening for weeks to resume part of the program — work done at the Uranium Conversion Facility outside the city of Isfahan.
On Sunday, Iran brushed off the sanctions threat.
"We are not concerned and are ready for everything," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said. He called the threats "not effective. What interests us is cooperation. We advise Europe to withdraw its threats."
On Monday, work at Isfahan resume, after IAEA inspectors installed cameras and other surveillance equipment intended to ensure no nuclear material is diverted. Iranian technicians in white suits and surgical masks rolled out barrels of yellowcake — raw uranium — to begin the conversion process.
The facility covers over 150 acres spread along mountains outside the city. Parts of the facility were built in tunnels in the mountains as protection from airstrikes. It is also surrounded by radar stations and anti-aircraft batteries.
Iran learned a lesson from the 1981 Israeli airstrike against Iraq's main nuclear reactor. Iran has spread its facilities over several locations, each with underground installations. The Isfahan facility and the uranium enrichment plant in Natanz house the heart of the country's nuclear program.
The Isfahan Conversion Facility, 255 miles south of Tehran, carries out an early stage of the cycle for developing nuclear fuel, turning yellowcake into UF-6 gas, the feedstock for enrichment.
In the next stage of the process — which Iran has said it will not resume for the time being — the gas is fed in centrifuges for enrichment. Uranium enriched to a low level is used to produce nuclear fuel; further enrichment makes it suitable for use in an atomic bomb.
Mohammad Saeedi, deputy head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said work was resuming "stage by stage" at Isfahan, starting with the unit that makes ammonium uranyl carbonate, or AUC, a component in the conversion process.
The plant will soon start turning yellowcake into UF-4, a preliminary stage before UF-6, the state news agency reported.
The AUC unit had not been sealed by the U.N. watchdog agency. Within the next two days, IAEA inspectors will remove seals that were put in place on the unit where UF-4 is turned into UF-6, bringing the facility into full operation, Saeedi said.
The seals are voluntary, and the IAEA has no choice but to remove them when Iran asks. Tehran says it is abiding by IAEA inspections of its sites, and allowed installation of surveillance equipment.
Iran has insisted it has the right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty to carry out the entire fuel cycle — from raw uranium to fuel for a reactor. Europe fears that if Iran can develop fuel on its own, it will secretly produce material for a bomb.
IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei said work had resumed as Isfahan before the surveillance equipment was tested, "which normally takes 24 hours," ElBaradei's spokesman Mark Gwozdecky said in Vienna.
Earlier, Iran converted some 37 tons of yellowcake into UF-4. Experts say that amount could yield 200 pounds of weapons-grade uranium, enough to make five crude nuclear weapons.
Saeedi said Iran is willing to wait on starting uranium enrichment until a deal is reached with Europe. "We won't restart work in Natanz for now," he said. "We hope we will reach a logical conclusion in talks with Europeans."
An exiled opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, accused Tehran of exploiting talks with the Europeans in a "cat and mouse game" to stall for time while covertly developing a nuclear weapons program.
Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.
I guess we'll see whether all the people who were saying "Why are we in Iraq? Iran is much more dangerous to us than Iraq!" really meant it...
The Jakarta Post Although I dont like the source, the article does make some worthy points:
Iran's uranium project: The slow-motion crisis
Gwynne Dyer, London
Everybody will drag their feet as much as possible, because nobody, including the Bush administration, really wants the United States to attack Iran. There may be as much as eight to twelve more months of diplomatic maneuvering before the crisis hits. But there is going to be a crisis, and it is going to be big and dangerous.
"We hope to restart work by the beginning of next week when preparations are complete," said Iran's top nuclear negotiator Hassan Rohani last Wednesday. The seals on Iran's uranium enrichment project, put into place last November when Tehran agreed to a temporary suspension of its program to develop a complete nuclear fuel cycle, will be removed as soon as the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency can get its surveillance equipment back into place in Isfahan.
The last offer of the "EU-3" (Britain, France and Germany) -- a package of economic inducements designed to persuade Iran to abandon its ambitions -- was duly delivered to Tehran on Friday, but that game is over. Rohani is leaving his job to make room for somebody more congenial to the new, hardline president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Iran is calling the Europeans' bluff. It may be calling the American bluff, too.
There is a significant possibility that President George W. Bush is bluffing when he hints that he might attack Iran if it doesn't halt its nuclear fuel program. He doesn't actually say he will, just that all options are on the table -- and his options are not actually very good.
It's clear that the Bush administration, already up to its neck militarily in Iraq, is deeply reluctant to get into a war with Iran, and the best evidence for that is the recent U.S. National Intelligence Estimate, which says that Iran is ten years away from developing nuclear weapons. Just six months ago, it was saying five years.
The U.S. intelligence agencies whose estimates go into the NIE generally offer a range of possible conclusions, given the diversity and unreliability of intelligence sources. The administration that provides the agencies' budgets can usually manipulate the process to highlight the conclusions that it prefers (as in the case of case of the invasion of Iraq). The fact that the NIE now says ten years, while Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, says three years, is a fairly reliable indication of the relative enthusiasm in the U.S. and the Israeli governments for an attack on Iran.
Neither estimate need be true, of course. Iran insists that its civil nuclear power ambitions are not a cover for a nuclear weapons program, and the fact that it has lots of oil does not prove that it is lying. It can make good economic sense to export oil for a huge profit and generate your own electricity: nobody says that Mexico must not build nuclear power plants. But the fact that Iran is seeking to develop a nuclear enrichment capacity that would make nuclear weapons possible is deeply suspicious, since it would be far cheaper just to buy the enriched uranium abroad.
Iran probably does want nuclear weapons, or at least the option of developing them fairly quickly. Nevertheless, nothing that it is planning to do at the moment is in any way illegal or contrary to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which guarantees member states the right to develop civil nuclear power in return for the promise that they will not develop nuclear weapons. Indeed, it even promises them help in doing so.
So all the bold talk in Washington about hauling Iran before the United Nations Security Council and imposing sanctions on it is so much moonshine. The fact that Iran hid the size of its nuclear program for some years, presumably in order not to attract unwelcome American attention, is suspicious, but none of the activities it hid were actually illegal. There is no legal case for sanctions against Iran, and the Security Council will not vote to impose them. Even if Washington could arm-twist its way to a majority vote in favor of sanctions, Russia and/or China would veto them.
What should President Bush do about this putative threat that is perhaps ten years away? The best answer might be nothing: Iran's intentions are not certain, the government may be very different ten years from now, and any U.S. military action now, without proof that Iran really is seeking nuclear weapons, would be completely illegal. But none of those considerations stopped Bush from invading Iraq, and he is busily painting himself into a corner on this issue with his tongue. Might he actually do it again?
Attacking Iran would achieve nothing in military terms, since the United States lacks the spare military capacity to invade and occupy such a large country. All it could do is bomb Iran's uranium enrichment facilities in Isfahan and elsewhere, and annoy Iranians to the point where they started causing trouble (and they could cause a great deal) in Iraq, the Gulf and the wider Middle East.
It would alienate even America's most loyal allies by its sheer lawlessness, and it wouldn't play very well at home either. Americans are turning against the cost and futility of the war in Iraq, and they will not be up for another. There will be mid-term Congressional elections next year, so that should be a decisive factor. But the truth is that nobody knows what Bush will do -- probably not even he himself. We live in interesting times.
The writer is a London-based independent journalist.
Slogger: De Nile ain't just a river in Egypt.
August 9, 2005
Iran's Nuclear Program Goes Back Online
Tehran bluntly rejects European offer, begins processing uranium. The West is likely to try more diplomacy before seeking U.N. sanctions.
By Sonni Efron, Times Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Iran on Monday defied European and American threats and resumed processing uranium, setting off a new confrontation with the West over its nuclear program.
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy called Tehran's decision to restart uranium conversion "grave and troubling" and a "clear violation" of a 2004 agreement reached in Paris under which Iran had pledged to freeze nuclear activities while it negotiated with European nations.
The board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, was expected to meet today to discuss the issue. The board could refer the matter to the U.N. Security Council for consideration of sanctions, but it seemed unlikely that it would do so now.
Although Iran says its nuclear activities are aimed purely at generating electricity, the U.S. and other Western nations fear it is using the program as a cover to build weapons. After months of discussions, Britain, France and Germany made an offer to Iran last week aimed at resolving the dispute.
The Europeans proposed providing Iran with a guaranteed source of fuel for its civilian nuclear plants and offered other economic incentives. In return, Tehran would have been required to forswear the sensitive nuclear fuel-cycle technology that could be used to produce bombs.
On Monday, Iran delivered a blunt, unsigned communique to the British, French and German embassies in Tehran rejecting the deal.
"The proposal is extremely long on demands from Iran and absurdly short on offers to Iran, and it shows the lack of any attempt to even create a semblance of balance," said the Iranian statement, delivered by Pirooz Hosseini, a senior Foreign Ministry official.
"It amounts to an insult on the Iranian nation for which [France, Britain and Germany] should apologize."
Douste-Blazy said the tone of the Iranian letter was "particularly alarming and contrary to the spirit of the dialogue we have had with Iran for the past two years."
After delivering the letter, Iran started feeding uranium ore concentrate into machinery at its conversion plant at Esfahan, the first step toward producing enriched uranium as fuel for nuclear power plants or for use in weapons. Although Iran allowed the U.N. nuclear agency to put monitoring cameras in place before the uranium conversion began, it did not wait the 24 hours usually required for the cameras to be tested, said Mohamed ElBaradei, the agency's director-general.
To many observers, the breakdown between Iran and the Europeans came as no surprise. Iran has consistently refused to relinquish its right under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty of 1970 to enrich uranium and has emphasized that its nuclear freeze was only temporary while talks continued with the Europeans.
But Tehran had grown increasingly impatient as the freeze neared the one-year mark and the Europeans made it clear they would not accept an enrichment program.
Iran had asked the IAEA to seal portions of the Esfahan plant after it agreed to suspend uranium conversion under the Paris agreement.
Eight days ago, it asked the IAEA to remove the seals. The agency said Monday that Iran had not restarted all parts of the conversion plant.
With Europe and the United States in accord over the need to keep Tehran at the negotiating table, the IAEA's 35-member board was to meet today in Vienna to discuss its response.
Two European diplomats said Britain, France and Germany would propose a resolution urging Iran to halt conversion activities and resume negotiations but making no threats should Tehran refuse.
"In Vienna, we aim for a simple text, something short and snappy," one diplomat said. "It will call on Iran to maintain the [nuclear] suspension."
The idea is "not to slam the door completely" but to leave the Iranians an opening "to go back to reason," the second diplomat said.
The Bush administration supports the European negotiating effort and is consulting with its allies on a response, State Department spokesman Adam Ereli said. A second State Department official declined to comment on whether the United States was satisfied with the text of the Europeans' proposed IAEA resolution.
European and U.S. officials have warned Iran that if it converts uranium, they will seek to have Iran's case referred to the Security Council.
But it is not certain that the allies have the votes on the IAEA board for such a referral. The governors almost invariably make decisions by consensus, although under the rules of the organization, they can decide to hold a vote. Two weeks ago, Western diplomats in Vienna concluded that they could not muster even a simple majority to refer the Iranian matter to the council.
In the past, the Bush administration has urged the Europeans to push a tough resolution against Iran that it hoped would win a majority — if not unanimity — but the Europeans have been reluctant to do so, a U.S. official said.
The Europeans are betting that IAEA board members will be unhappy with Iran's decision to proceed with uranium conversion in the face of the European proposal to facilitate Iran's access to civilian nuclear power under strict nonproliferation rules. But to try to build consensus, they will propose the more gradual approach of first asking the Iranians to come back to the table.
Ereli stressed that U.S. officials wanted to refer Iran to the Security Council unless it made a verifiable deal with the Europeans. But he avoided saying that Washington would seek a referral immediately. The diplomatic language appeared designed to give the Europeans maximum negotiating room.
But the Iranians are testing the U.S. and Europe, waiting to see how much pressure the West can bring to bear at the IAEA, said George Perkovich, who analyzes the Iranian nuclear situation at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington.
"It's 'Let's see what the other guy's got. Let's test it,' " Perkovich said, noting that Tehran could back off if it found international reaction too negative. The wild card, he said, is "in the IAEA — how much is the U.S. going to bully and bribe other states?"
Within the atomic energy agency, a crucial problem for the West will be articulating a set of rules acceptable to other developing countries that already have or may wish to develop nuclear power, analysts said.
Brazil, South Africa and other nations that may want to develop their own nuclear fuel cycle may worry about the precedent they would help set by requiring Iran to give up that technology. But the Europeans hope that these countries, as well as Russia, will be willing as a first step to endorse a resolution calling on Iran to halt uranium conversion and return to the negotiating table.
Even if the U.S. and its backers overcome the objections of other aspiring nuclear countries to referring Iran to the Security Council, it would be difficult to win agreement within the U.N. to penalize Iran for its nuclear programs. China, which is generally opposed to international sanctions, could block such a move, as it has done in the case of North Korea.
Under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the Iranians are permitted to convert and enrich uranium. But they are taking a calculated risk by breaking the Paris agreement while complying with the letter, if not the spirit, of the IAEA safeguards, said Sharon Squassoni, an expert on weapons of mass destruction and proliferation at the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.
"They're really dancing on the edge," she said. "They're very savvy on what they can and cannot get away with, and I think the IAEA is cognizant of that also."
Dissident: Tehran Has 4,000 Centrifuges
By WILLIAM J. KOLE, Associated Press Writer2 hours, 50 minutes ago
Iran has manufactured about 4,000 centrifuges capable of enriching uranium to weapons grade, an exiled Iranian dissident who helped uncover nearly two decades of covert nuclear activity in 2002 said Tuesday.
Alireza Jafarzadeh told The Associated Press the centrifuges — which he said are unknown to the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency — are ready to be installed at Iran's nuclear facility in Natanz.
Jafarzadeh, who runs Strategic Policy Consulting, a Washington-based think tank focusing on Iran and Iraq, said the information — which he described as "very recent" — came from sources within the Tehran regime who have proven accurate in the past.
None of Jafarzadeh's claims could be independently verified immediately.
The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, which was convening an emergency meeting on Iran later Tuesday, did not immediately comment on the centrifuge allegations. The agency previously had said it was aware of the existence of 164 centrifuges at Natanz, 300 miles south of Tehran.
Iran also did not immediately comment on the Jafarzadeh's claims.
Under an agreement with the IAEA, Iran had pledged to stop building centrifuges, which can be used to enrich uranium to levels high enough to fuel a nuclear weapon.
Centrifuges also can be used for the peaceful generation of nuclear energy, which Iran insists is its only intention. The United States contends the country is running a covert effort to produce nuclear weapons.
"These 4,000 centrifuge machines have not been declared to the IAEA, and the regime has kept the production of these machines hidden from the inspectors while the negotiations with the European Union have been going on over the past 21 months," Jafarzadeh said in a telephone interview.
Iran on Saturday rejected a package of EU incentives presented by envoys from Britain, France and Germany, and on Monday, it announced it had resumed uranium conversion activities at its nuclear facility at Isfahan.
Jafarzadeh said the centrifuges were manufactured in Isfahan and Tehran, and that construction of buildings, concrete foundations and other work needed to prepare the Natanz facility for centrifuge installation has continued in recent months.
The IAEA's 35-nation board of governors was meeting to assess Iran's latest nuclear activities, and diplomats said it could issue a formal warning to Tehran.
The board, however, appeared unlikely to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council, which has the authority to impose economic or political sanctions on the regime.
Jafarzadeh said Iran was making "extensive" use of front organizations or companies for the production and testing of centrifuge parts. He identified the companies as Pars Tarash, Kala Electric and Energy Novin, and said all had office space in the downtown Tehran building that houses Iran's Atomic Energy Organization.
Pars Tarash, which has been mentioned in IAEA reports, is using subcontractors to make some centrifuge components, Jafarzadeh alleged. He said Malek Ashtar University in Isfahan also allegedly was involved in producing centrifuge parts.
Those companies "don't know what they're building — they're just given specifications for some parts — but the Pars Tarash company knows what it's building: centrifuges," he said.
In 2002, Jafarzadeh — then a member of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an exiled opposition group — disclosed information about two hidden nuclear sites that helped uncover nearly two decades of covert Iranian atomic activity and sparked present fears that Tehran wants to build a bomb.
The council is the political arm of the Mujahedeen Khalq, a group that Washington and the European Union list as a terrorist organization.
Jafarzadeh identified the top two engineers allegedly working on centrifuge parts as Morteza Behzad, who works for Iran's atomic agency and heads Pars Tarash, and Ali Karimi, a Defense Ministry engineer with experience in more advanced P2 centrifuges.
"This clearly shows that contrary to Iran's claim that it is transparent and cooperating with the IAEA, it hasn't stopped being deceitful, hasn't stopped lying and hiding its program," Jafarzadeh said by telephone from Washington, D.C.
In June 2004, diplomats told AP in Vienna that Iran had acknowledged inquiring about 4,000 magnets needed for uranium enrichment equipment with a European black-market supplier and had dangled the possibility of buying a "higher number." It was unclear whether the magnets were intended for use in the 4,000 centrifuges Jafarzadeh cited.
A month later, in July 2004, Iran confirmed it had resumed building centrifuges, although it said it had not restarted uranium enrichment.
Britain, France and Germany called Tuesday's emergency IAEA meeting after Tehran announced plans to resume conversion, the process preceding enrichment. Highly enriched uranium can be used to make weapons; uranium enriched to lower levels is used to produce electricity.
Copyright © 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained in the AP News report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.
Copyright © 2005 Yahoo! Inc. All rights reserved.
If they want an insurance policy against invasion then why are they forcing a situation that will cause them to be invaded? Your logic is very faulty.
We could send them a SAMPLE of our nuclear POWER, or 2, or 3, or 4 or 8.
It is well known Iran is exporting terror, exporting conventional munitions to the folks causing us trouble in Iraq -- why the f*** do you not think that they would not follow the same pattern of supplying our enemies with nuclear materials and weapons when they produce them?
Personally, I don't agree with that. Israel already proved there is something that can be done, in Iraq. I wouldn't put it past them to do it again. If Iran's leadership were truely pragmatic, they'd stick to burning oil and stay off the radar, especially now that they've demonstrated a medium range delivery system. Not much point in having one of those, unless you are going to start building nukes. I don't think Israel or Europe are going to sit comfortably, knowing there are Muslim nukes pointed at them.
The end is near...........
Agreed. I say for insurance we park 2 Ohio class boomers over there. Just to be sure.
Iran: Seals to come off at N-plant
Nuclear watchdog expected to seek reversal from Tehran
VIENNA, Austria (CNN) -- Iran said it would resume full work at an atomic facility after U.N. inspectors remove their seals on equipment, amid Western fears Tehran could use its technology to build a nuclear bomb.
The statement by the country's atomic energy chief on Wednesday came as the International Atomic Energy Agency -- the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog -- was expected to press Iran to reverse its decision to resume the uranium conversion program.
Tehran has said its atomic work is for peaceful purposes only.
"Today all seals will be removed by IAEA inspectors, and all reprocessing activities can be carried out at the facility," The Associated Press quoted Gholamreza Aghazadeh as telling state television.
The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said the seals would be removed only after the inspectors had finished installing their surveillance equipment at the facility at Isfahan, 410 kilometers (255 miles) south of Tehran, AP reported.
Iran restarted uranium conversion -- a step on the way to enrichment -- at the Isfahan facility Monday without breaking any U.N. seals at the plant. (Full story)
But in order to run the whole plant -- which turns uranium concentrate into a gas that can then be enriched into reactor or bomb fuel -- seals must be removed, Reuters reported.
Iran has insisted it has the right to have a nuclear fuel recycling program in its quest for greater reliance on nuclear energy.
Western nations, however, fear this same uranium enrichment program could also be used by Iran as a front to develop atomic weapons.
The IAEA's board of governors met in Vienna on Tuesday and was expected to meet again Wednesday.
The IAEA indicated its board would ask Iran to rescind its decision on resuming its uranium conversion program.
If Iran declines, it could be referred to the U.N. Security Council for sanctions.
According to the Islamic Republic News Agency, new Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan in a phone call that Iran was willing to continue negotiations on its nuclear program.
But Ahmadinejad rejected a European Union proposal to settle the dispute as "an affront to the Iranian nation."
U.S. President George W. Bush, at his ranch in Texas, said Ahmadinejad's willingness to come back to the table was "a positive sign" but warned that Washington was "deeply suspicious" of Iran's goals.
Last week, EU negotiators offered Iran a package of proposals for long-term support of its civilian nuclear program in exchange for guarantees not to develop atomic weapons. (Full story)
A government spokesman said Saturday that Iran would reject the offer. "We do not humble ourselves in the poisoned atmosphere created by foreign sources," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid-Reza Asefi said. (Full story)
Cyrus Naseri, Iran's delegate to the IAEA, told reporters Tuesday that an Iranian settlement proposal was still on the table for European consideration.
IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei said he hoped the dispute between Iran and the EU was "simply a hiccup, not a permanent rupture." He urged all parties to exercise maximum restraint.
As the 35-member IAEA board met, the Russian Federation joined other European nations in calling on Iran to resume suspension of the program.
Russia, a member of the board of governors, signed a deal with Iran in February to transfer nuclear fuel to Iran's $800 million power plant reactor in the southern city of Bushehr and move the spent fuel back to Russia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he is convinced Iran is not developing nuclear weapons. (Full story)
Britain, France and Germany -- the so-called EU-3 -- have led attempts to negotiate a solution with Iran. The United States, which has no diplomatic relations with the Islamic republic, has remained largely in the background.
"Our strategy has been all along to work with Germany, France and Great Britain in terms of sending a strong signal and message to Iran," Bush said Tuesday.
Bush once branded Iran as part of an "axis of evil" along with North Korea and Saddam Hussein's Iraq.
"Today it looked like the new Iranian leader has heard that message," he said.
The bottom line, Bush said, is that "we don't want the Iranians to have nuclear weapons."
'Ready for talks'
Naseri, speaking in Vienna, scoffed at the U.S. insistence that Iran should not have nuclear weapons.
"The United States is the sole nuclear weapons state which had the guts to drop the bomb and kill and maim and turn into ashes millions in a split second," he said, referring the atomic bombs that destroyed two cities in Japan and helped end World War II 60 years ago this month. (Full story)
"The United States is in no position whatsoever to tell anyone or preach what they should or should not with their nuclear program."
IRNA, the Iranian state-run news agency, quoted Ahmadinejad as telling Annan that Iran was "ready for talks, and negotiations have never been interrupted on our part. We are willing to continue with negotiations within the framework of IAEA regulations and safeguard agreement."
"Iranian officials gave two years for confidence building, and it seems such an approach has enhanced the level of expectations of the EU party," Ahmadinejad said.
"The EU party expects Iran to accept violation of its national rights. No Iranian national accepts such an injustice."
"However, we are ready to proceed with talks. Of course, I will put forward initiatives in this respect after forming my Cabinet," he said.
He complained to Annan that the European proposal "does not look like a proposal at all. It is an insult to the Iranian nation. They have talked in a way as if the Iranian nation was suffering from backwardness, and the time was 100 years ago, and our country was their colony."
The secretary-general's office confirmed that the two had spoken and said Annan echoed ElBaradei's urging of restraint.
Under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, signatory nations -- which include Iran -- are allowed to develop nuclear power with monitoring by the IAEA.
The agency says it was making progress but that Iran's past lack of candor about its program had left some doubt about its current work.
Ahmadinejad told Annan that Iran was operating in complete compliance with IAEA regulations.
Russia joined the Europeans and Americans in urging Iran to reverse course.
"It would be a wise decision to immediately stop the work begun on uranium conversion and continue Iran's close cooperation with the IAEA in removing the questions that still remain about the Iranian nuclear program," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mikhail Kamynin said during a news conference, as translated by the ministry on the Web site.
The IAEA board met Tuesday to receive a report from its monitors on the restarting of the fuel conversion at Isfahan. Sources told CNN that a report may emerge Thursday again calling on Iran to rethink its enrichment program.
Amid heavy international pressure, Iran agreed in November to suspend the production of enriched uranium, which can be used as fuel for nuclear power plants or, in higher concentrations, in nuclear weapons. (Full story)
CNN Senior International Correspondent Walter Rodgers contributed to this report
I can't imagine why there are not two over there already...
The Iranians are going for a Nuke in order to impress the other low-life nations in the mid-east. They know they can't stop the good 'ole USA! They're just blustering like any other tin-horn dictatorship.
"It doesn't matter if we are a Turd World nation that survives on welfare... err foreign aid, despite trillion$ in potential oil reserves... err economic activity. We've got a Nuke by golly! And we're prepared to show it off to the rest of you, all hail the Holy Iranian Revolution!"
Why the fuck haven't we destroyed these fucking insane cock-suckers in Iran?