I hope this is a trend for the army.
I feel like we're getting ready to start the beginning of the end this week.
Iran flags next step: trade in nuke fuel
February 16, 2004
IRAN signalled yesterday that it might resume its controversial effort to produce nuclear fuel.
"As a country that is capable of producing nuclear fuel, Iran is ready to sell it on the international market," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi was quoted as saying by state news agency IRNA.
"The Iranian people are not ready to compromise on their national interests. No government can relinquish an issue that has gained it national pride, but we are ready to co-operate internationally."
Iran, which denies US allegations that it is using an atomic energy program as a cover to develop nuclear weapons, pledged last year to the International Atomic Energy Agency that it would temporarily cease enriching uranium.
That promise, which officials in Tehran have warned could expire at a moment of their own choosing, was part of a confidence-building package negotiated with Britain, France and Germany.
Iran also agreed to allow IAEA inspectors to conduct tougher investigations of its nuclear program after admitting to a string of violations of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Although the treaty permits the enriching of uranium for peaceful purposes, Iran has been under pressure to halt its work on such technology, given concerns expressed by the US and others over its ambitions.
They see a longer-term risk that, once having mastered the full fuel cycle, Iran could be just months away from producing weapons-grade material.
However, the state of Iran's effort to produce its own nuclear fuel, let alone export it, had been considered limited, given the country's effort to acquire such fuel from Russia. Iran announced only early last year that it was beginning to mine uranium.
Mr Kharazi's comments, which also included a new denial that Tehran was seeking nuclear weapons, come amid a fresh storm surrounding his country's nuclear program.
Diplomats at the Vienna-based IAEA said last week that nuclear weapons inspectors in Iran had found blueprints for an advanced centrifuge - used to enrich uranium both for nuclear reactors and for atomic bombs - that Tehran had failed to declare.
In Berlin on Thursday, US Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security John Bolton said: "The response is clear. There's no doubt that Iran continues a nuclear program."
But the diplomats in Vienna said the discovery was not a "smoking gun" that the UN watchdog could use to take Iran before the Security Council, where it could face sanctions.
Mr Kharazi's assertions also come at a time when Iran is having problems acquiring nuclear fuel from Russia, which is withholding supplies for a nuclear plant it is helping build in the southern Iranian city of Bushehr.
The IAEA's board of governors is to meet on March 8 to review the situation in Iran. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,8693231%255E2703,00.html