U.N. Agency Demands Iran Suspend Uranium Enrichment Program, Will Judge Compliance in 2 Months
VIENNA, Austria Sept. 18, 2004 For the first time, 35 nations in the U.N. atomic watchdog agency demanded Saturday that Iran freeze all work on uranium enrichment a technology that can be used for nuclear arms and said it would judge Tehran's compliance in two months.
The resolution passed by the agency was its toughest yet on Tehran but didn't go as far as the United States had sought by saying Iran will automatically be sent to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions if it fails to meet the demands by November.
U.S. officials, however, insisted the 35-member board of the International Atomic Energy Agency must refer Iran to the council when it meets again on Nov. 25 if Tehran doesn't comply.
"The issue is whether or not they're going to give up nuclear weapons" by the November meeting, U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton told The Associated Press. "The ball is in Iran's court."
"The time for decisive action is approaching," said Jackie Sanders, the chief U.S. delegate to the IAEA board meeting. "To wait until the IAEA finds the nuclear weapons ... is to wait until it is too late."
The United States says Iran's nuclear program is aimed at producing weapons, a claim Tehran denies.
The resolution passed unanimously Saturday said the board "considers it necessary" that Iran suspend all uranium enrichment and related programs. And it expressed alarm at Iranian plans to convert more than 40 tons of raw uranium into uranium hexafluoride the gas that when spun in centrifuges turns into enriched uranium.
It also said it "strongly urges" Iran to meet all demands by the agency in its investigation of the country's nearly two decades of clandestine nuclear activity, including unrestricted access to sites, information and personnel that can shed light on still unanswered questions on whether Tehran was interested in the atom for nuclear weapons.
It called on the IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei to provide a review of the findings of a more-than one year probe of Iran's nuclear activities which Tehran insists are strictly tailored toward generating electricity.
Suggesting that the Islamic Republic could answer to the U.N. Security Council should it defy the demands, the resolution said the next board meeting in November "will decide whether or not further steps are appropriate" in ensuring Iran complies.
The Americans praised the text, saying it showed the world was united against Iran's nuclear program.
"This resolution sends an unmistakable signal to Iran that continuing its nuclear weapons program will bring it inevitably before the (U.N.) Security Council," Sanders told reporters.
ElBaradei described the text as reflecting "the collective will of the international community," adding: "The resolution is very clear as to what is expected of Iran in the next few months."
The last board resolution in June had been less insistent on the issue of suspending enrichment, a process that can develop material for nuclear weapons, or fuel for an energy program, as Iran says it intends.
Still, the text approved Saturday appeared to fall far short of what the Americans had wanted coming into the meeting when it opened Monday.
Washington had pushed to drop mention of countries' rights to peaceful nuclear technology and fought for an Oct. 31 deadline, with the understanding that if Iran failed to comply the board would then automatically begin deliberations on Security Council referral.
The phrasing accepted instead left it up to the board to debate what action if any to take when it reconvenes Nov. 25 should Iran be found to have ignored the demand to freeze enrichment or other conditions.
Iran's chief delegate to the meeting asserted that Washington was frustrated in its main goals "putting (a) deadline of Oct 31, (and) second an automatic trigger mechanism."
"Both were neglected, and we have nothing like this in the resolution," Hossain Mousavian told reporters.
In a telefaxed statement to the AP, German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said the resolution "underlines the concerns of the international community of states regarding the Iranian nuclear program."
Still, indirectly contradicting U.S. assertions that Iran automatically belonged before the Security Council, chief German delegate Herbert Honsowitz suggested the resolution did nothing more than empower the board to "set the stage ... on how this issue can be dealt with further in the IAEA."
Bolton, the U.S. undersecretary of state, said that unless Iran fully meets all conditions of the resolution the board would follow America's lead come November.
"The odds are the Iranians are going to try to throw as much sand in people's eyes as they can," he told the AP. "If they're still pursuing the same policies, I'm confident we are going to win that vote," on referral to the Security Council, he said.
Iran says it is honoring a pledge not to put uranium hexafluoride gas into centrifuges, spin it and make enriched uranium. But the resolution calls for a stop as well to other activities, including the assembling of centrifuges and the production of uranium hexafluoride.
Iran is not prohibited from enrichment under its obligations to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. But it has for months faced international pressure to suspend such activities as a good-faith gesture and the resolution went further by actually demanding a stop to enrichment and related activities.
Ahead of approval which came after days of backdoor negotiations and resistance by nonaligned countries that saw their own right to enrichment for peaceful use threatened by the text Mousavian, the chief Iranian delegate, held out the possibility of meeting the resolution's key demand.
Iran's "decision-makers will decide about the main request full suspension," in the next few days, he told the AP.
Iran to test fire 'strategic missile'
Iran's revolutionary guards were to test fire a 'strategic missile' Saturday following the launch of new surface-to-surface and surface-to-air missiles Friday, a senior IRGC commander said, IRNA reported from Zanjan.
The new missile will be test fired during war games being held on a vast swath of land in the western provinces of Zanjan, Hamedan and Kurdestan, the spokesman of the "Ashura 5" maneuvers, Hossein Salami said.
"With the induction and launch of this missile, the scope of the Ashura 5 maneuvers will practically increase several folds," he said.
The IRGC will publish soon further information about the missile, Salami added.
The Ashura 5 war games are being held over an area, estimated at 60,000 square kilometers with the participation of 12 infantry and mechanized divisions.
The maneuvers are aimed at 'boosting the combat capability of the forces and bolstering their defensive morale as well as assessing and testing advanced equipment'.
Iran is fresh from the successful test of an upgraded version of its Shahab-3 medium-range ballistic missile last month.
Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani said earlier this month that "given that an effective deterrent policy does not halt at a certain point, the Islamic Republic of Iran continues upgrading its defensive capability."
"Being powerful does not necessarily means war-mongering, neither do the roads of peace lead to concession," Shamkhani added.
Shamkhani said Iran has now acquired an 'effective deterrent power' to confront its enemies in the region.
"Today by relying on our defense industry capabilities, we have been able to increase our deterrent capacity against the military expansion of regional enemies," he said.
Military experts have said the Shahab-3 missile is capable of striking Israel or any other enemy target in the region.
The test came as Israel's Arrow missile defense system, designed to counter threats such as the Shahab-3, passed its first live test in July by downing a Scud missile off the coast of California.
The Arrow-2 missile system, however, failed to destroy the detachable warhead of an incoming missile fired by a US Air Force aircraft in a test off the coast of California.
News agencies said an advanced Israeli spy satellite meant to boost Israel's surveillance over Iran plunged into the sea after a malfunction on liftoff.
Reuters said the Israeli Defense Ministry had blamed a failure in the third stage of the rocket launch for the loss of the dlrs 50 million Ofek-6 satellite.
Ofek-6 -- the latest in an Israeli line of spy satellites first put into orbit in 1988 -- was destroyed when it crashed into the Mediterranean Sea, the news agency said.
Reuters quoted Ephrain Sneh, head of the parliamentary defense subcommittee as saying that 'the damage in terms of intelligence, financing, and prestige caused by the botched launch are unacceptable'.
The crash is seen a major setback to Israel's attempts to upgrade methods of gathering intelligence on Iran.
Iran has stressed that its missile program is defensive, while Iranian military commanders have warned of grave consequences if Israel attacks the country.
Tehran, however, has repudiated US Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's allegations that Iran may be working to develop missiles capable of reaching the United States.
Rumsfeld has named Iran among countries which were allegedly working to develop and deploy missiles capable of reaching the United States.
Tensions have been heightened by the US campaign to organize international pressure on Iran to halt its nuclear program, which Tehran says is strictly peaceful.
Iran says the program is in accordance with the country's bid to produce 7,000 megawatts of electricity in the next 20 years, when the country's oil and gas reserves become overstretched.
The United States, however, claims that Tehran's nuclear program is a prelude to building an atomic bomb.
Europe's resolution politically motivated: Iranian Official
Vienna, Sept 18, IRNA -- Iran regards the draft resolution proposed three European states of Germany, Britain and France on the country's nuclear programs as politically motivated, the spokesman for the Iranian delegation to the meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) Board of Governors, Hossein Moussavian, said in Vienna on Saturday.
Talking to IRNA on the sidelines of the IAEA Board of Governors' meeting in UN headquarter in Europe, Moussavian added the resolution paid no attention to a positive report by IAEA Chief Mohamed ElBaradei on Iran's cooperation and its good will.
"This is while a major part of ElBaradei's report has been concentrated on the progress made in this respect such as solving of such issues as laser enrichment process, uranium conversion, 36 and 54 percent pollution as well as other progress achieved in P-1 and P-2 issues," he said.
The official noted that the report pointed to Iran's increasing cooperation, full access to its nuclear facilities and presentation of a clear image of Iran's nuclear activities, but all these positive developments have been referred to in the European resolution in a simple sentence "We welcome the achieved progress".
"This sentence is aimed at decreasing the positive load of the resolution, and therefore Iran considers it as a fully political and an unwise attitude taken by the Europeans," Moussavian stressed.
He welcomed that part of the resolution calling for ElBaradei's complete report on Iran's nuclear activities, saying Iran demanded its case be closed by November which depends on ElBaradei's comprehensive report and the Board of Governors' decision.
"Iran will continue its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency because the country has benefitted from such cooperation," he said.
The resolution passed by the IAEA Board of Governors has more positive points than the previous ones which is an indication of the authenticity of Iran's claims and the falsehood of the US claims, he noted.
He also stressed the continuation of Iran's cooperation with European states, saying "Iran has always benefitted from such cooperation because the US has always been hasty in sending Iran's nuclear case to the U.N. Security Council and the resolution presented by the Europeans was a setback for the US in this regard."
In the current meeting, the US has also sought to set a deadline and an automatic trigger mechanism to send Iran's nuclear case to the UN Security Council but it suffered a defeat due to Europe's resistance.
"Although the Islamic Republic of Iran is not content with the Europeans' resolution, it is satisfied with the Europeans' resistance to US demands," he said.
Such a resistance has provided Iran and the IAEA with proper opportunities to prove the falsehood of the Americans' claims, he said.
In response to a question on Iran's reaction to a request for suspension of uranium enrichment process, he said the country's officials are to discuss and make a final decision on whether to continue temporary suspension or completely halt the process this week.
The country's high ranking officials have been engaged in decision making process from early stages and it is them who have the final say in this respect, he underlined.
Lauding the stances taken by the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) on the draft resolution proposed by the Europeans, he said they have explicitly and clearly declared that the resolution is not based on facts.
The members of Non-Aligned Movement has called for a separate voting on notes seven and eight of the resolution offered by three European countries, he pointed out.
There are some positive notes in the resolution which underline the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear activities, Iran's continued cooperation with IAEA to remove all existing ambiguities, and Iran's voluntary decision on suspension of uranium enrichment, he said.
Talks on notes seven and eight of the resolution still continue, he said.
The NAM countries has called for separate voting for notes seven and eight of the resolution which has been opposed by the European countries.
Iranian Hercules Rezazadeh due in Athens to raise spirits
Tehran, Sept 18, IRNA -- Hossein Rezazadeh, world's strongest man, plans to go to the Greek capital, Athens, to lift the Iranian weightlifters' spirits in the 12th Paralympic Games.
The Iranian Federation for the Disabled and War-Disabled Sports is making arrangements for the presence of the world and Olympic +105 kg record-holder in the prestigious tournament.
The cherubic Iranian colossus proved invincible as he won the Olympic gold on walkover in Athens on August 25.
The 26-year-old, who invoked Hazrat Abolfazl (AS), a religious leader of the Shiites, prior to his every attempt edged past all rivals with a 210 kg lift in snatch, which was later combined with a world record of 263.5 kg in the clean and jerk.
Rezazadeh improved his own record by 0.5 kg as he incredibly flung the bar above his head in his third clean-and-jerk effort.
"It was a good performance. I came full strength to win the gold medal," said the Iranian Hercules as he had a copy of the holy Qur'an in his hand.
"I had tough training and Allah helped me."
The sturdy icon, now the two-time Olympic gold medalist and twice world champion, was too strong for world superheavies as his total lift, 472.5 kg, was well above the records of silver winner from Latvia Viktors Scerbatihs and Bulgaria's Velichko Cholakov, who bagged bronze.
Scerbatihs totally hoisted 455 kg and Cholakov 447.5.