Iran "Promises" to Stop Making Centrifuges
AP - World News (via Yahoo)
Apr 6, 2004
TEHRAN - Tehran made yet another promise Tuesday to rein in its nuclear program, and the visiting chief U.N. weapons inspector said he had received assurances Iran knows it has to step up cooperation with his agency.
Mohamed ElBaradei's trip to Iran came amid indications of continued nuclear cover-ups and signs that even previously reluctant U.S. allies were moving closer to the United States' view that Tehran should be penalized.
Appearing at a news conference with ElBaradei, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said the country would "voluntarily" suspend its centrifuge work starting April 9. That appeared to contradict a March 29 announcement from Iran that it already had stopped building centrifuges for uranium enrichment. Such ambiguities are among the reasons the international community views Iran's nuclear ambitions with increasing skepticism. Iran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.
Iran wants as quickly as possible "to bring this case to a close," Aghazadeh said Tuesday.
ElBaradei, who arrived early Tuesday, welcomed Aghazadeh's announcement on centrifuges and said a new team of inspectors would come to Tehran on April 12 to verify that all uranium enrichment activities had stopped.
"We agreed that we need to accelerate the process of cooperation," ElBaradei said. "Mr. Aghazadeh committed that Iran will do everything possible to accelerate the process of resolving the outstanding issues. I hope during the course of my visit that we can develop an action plan that can have a timeline."
Aghazadeh said he expected Iran's nuclear dossier would be closed by June, at the next meeting of the IAEA's board of governors.
"We will do our best (for) ... our relationship with the agency to be normalized," he said.
ElBaradei , who was to return to Vienna on Wednesday, said he would address two key points with top Iranian officials: the origins of traces of highly enriched uranium found in the country, and details on Iran's advanced P-2 centrifuges equipment that could be used to enrich uranium for use in a weapon.
Vienna-based diplomats familiar with the IAEA's activities in Iran, where experts have been examining nuclear sites and programs for signs of past and present weapons ambitions, said there is lingering doubt about whether Iran is revealing all of its activities.
Iran says its nuclear program is geared only toward producing electricity. The United States and other nations contend it masks a covert effort to build a nuclear weapon, and an IAEA resolution last month censured Iran for hiding suspicious activities.
ElBaradei said last month's resolution showed that the board is "getting a little bit impatient and they would like to see progress."
On Sunday, Iran denied it has hidden any nuclear facilities by shifting them to easier-to-conceal sites.
Iranian officials were responding to alleged intelligence from the United States and an unnamed country suggesting that within the past year, Iran had moved nuclear enrichment programs to less detectable locations.
ElBaradei said last month that Iran has much to do before the IAEA can declare Tehran's nuclear program peaceful.
Iran's nuclear ambitions first came under international scrutiny last year, when the IAEA discovered that Tehran had not disclosed large-scale efforts to enrich uranium, which can be used in nuclear warheads. Finds of traces of weapons-grade uranium and evidence of suspicious experiments heightened concerns.
Critics say that Iran since has reneged on commitments to win international trust such as a promise to suspend enrichment as IAEA inspectors have discovered new evidence of past experiments that could be used to develop weapons.
"There is a growing feeling that the Iranians are playing games instead of honoring pledges of full disclosure," one diplomat said Monday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
Adding to the skepticism was Iran's announcement last month that it inaugurated a uranium conversion facility in Isfahan, 155 miles south of Tehran, to process uranium ore into gas a crucial step before uranium enrichment.
Iran insists the move does not contravene its pledge to suspend enrichment. But Britain, France and Germany which have blunted past U.S. attempts to come down hard on Iran were critical. They said the Isfahan plant sent the wrong signal.
Last year, the three secured Iran's agreement to suspend enrichment and cooperate with the IAEA in exchange for promised access to western technology. They have stymied U.S. attempts to have Tehran brought before the U.N. Security Council for allegedly violating the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. http://www.daneshjoo.org/generalnews/article/publish/article_5605.shtml
"Last year, the three secured Iran's agreement to suspend enrichment and cooperate with the IAEA in exchange for promised access to western technology"
And now we know how secure that agreement was!
Maybe they can get Iran to make another agreement? And another? And eventually get Iran not to attack them with nuclear weapons after the regime's done making them?