Skip to comments.Iran Removes Final Seals at Nuclear Site
Posted on 08/10/2005 9:51:52 AM PDT by NormsRevenge
ISFAHAN, Iran - Iran removed the final seals from equipment at a uranium conversion plant as U.N. inspectors watched Wednesday, paving the way for Tehran to fully open the facility despite European and U.S. calls for it to maintain the suspension of its nuclear program.
The move came as Europe and the United States were struggling to find leverage to stop Iran from forging ahead with its nuclear program, which Washington says secretly aims to develop nuclear weapons. Iran says its program is peaceful, intended only to produce electricity.
Board members of the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, canceled a session tentatively planned for Wednesday in Vienna, Austria, signaling how difficult it was for delegates to agree on how to rebuke Iran.
The United States and some European countries had talked of referring Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible economic sanctions but that option was fading over concerns it could backfire by hardening Iran's position. Iran has already said it would rather endure sanctions than back down on a program it says is a matter of national pride.
President Bush said Tuesday he was "deeply suspicious" about Iran's intentions.
Iran began work Monday at its Isfahan Uranium Conversion Facility, 255 miles south of Tehran. But some key units at the plant had remained under IAEA seal since a November suspension in activity.
All the seals were removed Wednesday and the agency said it had a surveillance system in place at the facility to keep tabs on the work.
The head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, told state-run television earlier Monday that work would start at the units as soon as the seals were removed, but he didn't specify in his latest comments whether that had happened.
The reopening of the plant is part of a tough new stance Iran is taking over its nuclear program. It suspended all nuclear activities in November to avoid U.N. sanctions and as a gesture in negotiations with the Europeans, who have trying to persuade Iran to limit its nuclear program.
Over the weekend, Iran rejected European proposals offering economic incentives in return for abandoning its uranium processing facilities.
New hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the offer "an insult," but he said Iran wanted to continue negotiations and would make its own proposals.
Iran has said it won't resume uranium enrichment the most crucial part of its program for the time being. Enrichment can produce either fuel for a nuclear power reactor or material for a nuclear bomb.
The Isfahan facility carries out an earlier stage of the process, converting raw uranium or "yellowcake" into uranium hexaflouride gas, UF-6, the feedstock for enrichment.
Before the November suspension, the Isfahan facility converted some 37 tons of yellowcake into UF-4, a preliminary stage. Experts say that amount could yield 200 pounds of weapons-grade uranium, enough to make five crude nuclear weapons.
The seals Wednesday were removed from the unit that converts UF-4 to UF-6, meaning it can now complete the conversion for the 37 tons, as well as convert more yellowcake from scratch.
The seals were voluntary, so IAEA inspectors had no choice but to let them be removed, though Iran allowed the installation of surveillance equipment to ensure no nuclear material is diverted.
Iran insists it has the right under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to develop the entire nuclear cycle from uranium ore to fuel for a reactor. But Europe fears that will give it the ability to secretly produce material for weapons.
Europe and the United States were struggling to find a way to get Tehran to back down. Diplomats at the IAEA board of governors held one meeting Tuesday. But a Wednesday session was canceled.
"They need more time," IAEA spokesman Peter Rickwood said. Diplomats were expected to continue negotiations privately on a resolution urging Iran to suspend its latest nuclear activities. Germany said the removal of the seals at Isfahan brought the standoff to a "critical phase of the process."
The German government "hopes Iran will still take the sensible path and look seriously and constructively at the offer from the (Europeans) and return to the so-called 'status quo ante," spokesman Bela Anda said.
France also urged Iran to again suspend the Isfahan plant. "This is necessary to restore the confidence of the international community and to allow for a resumption of negotiations," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marie Masdupuy said.
The European proposal offered last week to Iran "remains on the table and we invite Iran to give itself time to study it seriously," Masdupuy added.
The European proposals offered a trade-off: Iran would forgo activities on the nuclear fuel cycle, including conversion and enrichment, and in return Europe would guarantee it a supply of fuel for its reactor program, technical help and economic incentives.
-- An aerial photograph shows Iran's Uranium Conversion Facility, just outside the city of Isfahan, 410 kilometers, (255 miles), south of Capital Tehran, Iran, in this Wednesday, March 30, 2005, file photo. Iran removed the final seals from equipment at a uranium conversion plant as U.N. inspectors watched Wednesday, paving the way for it to fully open the facility despite European and U.S. calls for it to maintain the suspension of its nuclear program. (AP Photo/Vahid Salemi,file)
Iran began breaking U.N. seals at a uranium processing plant on August 10th, U.N. and Iranian officials said, a step on the road to production of enriched uranium that could be used for nuclear weapons. 'They have begun breaking the seals,' International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) spokesman Mark Gwozdecky said. An Iranian worker lifts a barrel of 'yellow cake' at the Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) in Isfahan, August 8, 2005. Photo by Reuters
"as Europe and the United States were struggling to find leverage to stop Iran from forging ahead with its nuclear program"
How about dropping the hammer on the 1/3 of the axis. Struggling... Struggling to find good men maybe.
I bet the UN will issue a stern statement.
VIENNA (AFP) - The United States condemned Iran's breaking of UN seals to bring online a key nuclear fuel plant, calling it a sign of Tehran's disregard for the international community.
"Today's breaking of seals is yet another sign of Iran's disregard for international concerns," Matt Boland, spokesman for the US mission to international organizations in Vienna, told AFP.
Iran on Monday took the first steps to break a suspension of nuclear fuel cycle work, which it had begun in November to start talks with the European Union on getting trade and other benefits in return for guarantees it was not making atomic weapons.
Iranian technicians on Wednesday removed seals placed by the UN watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at a uranium conversion plant in Isfahan, 400 kilometres (250 miles) south of Tehran, allowing the facility to return to full capacity and raising the stakes in a standoff with the international community.
The United States accuses Tehran of covertly developing nuclear weapons, a charge vehemently denied by Iran which says its atomic program is a peaceful effort to generate electricity.
Boland said the United States "strongly" supports the European Union's effort through talks with Tehran "to convince Iran to stop its dangerous activities."
"We urge Iran to give serious consideration to the EU's proposals," for the Islamic Republic to suspend all nuclear fuel cycle work in order to guarantee it will not make atomic weapons, Boland said.
Iran's removal of the seals comes as the European Union tries to win approval at a emergency IAEA meeting in Vienna for a draft resolution calling on Iran to reverse its decision to push ahead with the nuclear fuel work.
Conversion turns uranium ore or yellowcake into a feed gas for making enriched uranium, which can be the fuel for reactors or the explosive core of atomic bombs.
Iran points out that its right to the nuclear fuel cycle is legally enshrined under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and that it has infringed no international rules by resuming uranium conversion.
I would love to be a fly on the wall at the Crawford ranch.
Well, at least MSNBC rates it higher than the jurors in the Jackson case.
Yes, but first things first. Lunch at 21, then over to Maury Sills to pick up those suits I'm putting on the UN's tab.
And we're waiting for what?
UN? Nothing will happen.
Europe? Nothing will happen.
WE NEED TO DO THIS AND DO IT SOON.
I favor a response similar to the one made by Israel to Iraq's program back in the '80's.
JDAM and cruise missile targeting coordinates:
Longitude 51.67139053344727 degrees East
Latitude 32.65972137451172 degrees North
Mad Mullahs with bad toys - ping! Allahu fubar!
Yeah, they need to be careful handling that stuff so that it doesn't go critical and blow up on them.
Hey, don't discount disregard for the international community! We could do with a little more of that here in America. Meanwhile let's hope Israel has some disregard for the international community. They're closer to the target.
Alert the 2nd BW and the 7th BW.....send in the B-52s and the B-1s, and have the 509th's B-2s standing by. This is NOT good....
Did any trumpets sound when they broke the last seal?
I am also amazed at how this major news story is being ignored.
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