Iran refuses to Give up Heavy-Water Nuke Reactor
February 13, 2005 - IranMania.com
LONDON, Feb 13 (IranMania) - Iran said Sunday it would not give up its programmes to build a heavy-water reactor, which can be used to make atomic arms material, in exchange for a light-water research reactor proposed by the Europeans.
"We welcome such proposals but we will not under any circumstances replace our heavy-water research reactor," Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said.
"We will continue working on our heavy-water reactor," Asefi added.
He said Iran was determined to continue its nuclear energy programme despite pressure from Washington, which accuses Tehran of pursuing atomic weapons and has refused to rule out any option, including force, to stop it acquiring them,
The US government believes Iran is using its nuclear energy programme to conceal an effort to manufacture nuclear weapons and is relying, for the time being, on France, Britain and Germany to negotiate curbs on any such efforts, according to The Post.
EU negotiators in talks with Iran over its nuclear activities have offered to send a mission to help Tehran obtain a light-water research reactor in what would be the first concrete move towards rewarding Tehran for abandoning uranium enrichment, AFP reported.
Iran is engaged in diplomacy with France, Britain and Germany, on behalf of the European Union, aimed at ending a 2 1/2-year crisis over Tehran's nuclear ambitions that began when Iranian defectors exposed a large uranium enrichment facility in August 2002. Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have been in and out of the country since then investigating nuclear facilities, according to The Washington Post.
Iran denies US accusations it is building bombs under cover of a civilian nuclear energy program. But Asefi said it would never permanently end its disputed nuclear activities, according to Reuters.
"Iran strongly insists on its views and we will not give up our people's legitimate right," he declared.
US Spy Agencies Launch Review of Iran Data
February 13, 2005 - IranMania.com
LONDON, Feb 13 (IranMania) - The US intelligence community, burned by its fiasco in Iraq, has launched a broad review of its classified data on Iran as an escalating war of words suggested a possible showdown between the United States and Iran over its nuclear programme, US officials said Saturday, AFP reported.
The review, ordered by the National Intelligence Council, was expected to produce two major papers -- a new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran and a so-called "memo to holders" -- that will assess Iran's suspected drive to manufacture nuclear weapons and its implication for regional and global security, the officials said.
"It involves the entire intelligence community to write these products," said one of the officials, who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity.
The US intelligence community has not produced a formal estimate on Iran since 2001, and analysts said the new focus on the country likely reflected new strategic priorities for the administration of President George W. Bush, who has accused Iran of "pursuing nuclear weapons while depriving its people of the freedom they seek and deserve."
The official said the new NIE on Iran was "coming out" but gave no specific date. The memorandum was expected "several months from now."
But the official made it a point to say that the "memo to holders" was "self-initiated." "It is not that somebody has requested it," the official added.
The CIA-led review was expected to go in parallel with a reassessment of information about Iran being undertaken by the Senate intelligence committee, which was expected to hold a series of closed-door hearings on the matter in coming months, according to congressional officials.
Last year, the committee probed the US failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, whose alleged presence in the country served as the prime rationale for the March 2003 invasion.
A scathing report produced as a result of this investigation accused the intelligence community of "group think," "poor management" and "inadequate intelligence collection."
The Central Intelligence Agency told Congress late last year that Iranian efforts to develop e an indigenous nuclear fuel cycle had "clear weapons potential."
In its most recent report on proliferation matters, the CIA suggested International Atomic Energy Agency inspections and safeguards will most likely prevent Tehran from using its declared nuclear facilities for its weapons programme as long as Tehran remains a party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
"However, Iran could use the same technology at other, covert locations for military applications," the agency warned.
Moreover, the CIA said that Iran "may have already stockpiled" various types of deadly chemical agents and "probably has the capability to produce at least small quantities" of biological weapons.
However, the official interviewed by AFP declined to discuss agency assessments about how close Iran could be to actually producing a nuclear weapon.
The Bush administration has been flying surveillance drones over Iran for nearly a year to seek evidence of nuclear weapons programs and detect weaknesses in air defenses, according to three US officials with detailed knowledge of the secret effort, The Washington Post reported.
The small, pilotless planes, penetrating Iranian airspace from US military facilities in Iraq, use radar, video, still photography and air filters designed to pick up traces of nuclear activity to gather information that is not accessible by satellites, the officials said. The aerial espionage is standard in military preparations for an eventual air attack and is also employed as a tool for intimidation, The Post added.
The intelligence reviews come as rhetoric surrounding Iran's suspected nuclear weapons drive is heating up, with US Vice President Richard Cheney pointing out last week that while the United States preferred a diplomatic solution, "we have not eliminated any alternative."
Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, for his part, warned on Thursday that anyone who will try to invade Iran would be greeted with a "burning hell."