Any group affiliated with the Nobel Peace Prize should be suspect. :-/
Thursday September 25, 8:56 AM
On eve of inspection, Iran defies IAEA over uranium enrichment
With UN monitors poised to make fresh inspections, Iran defied the United Nations' nuclear watchdog, insisting that it would not bow to international demands to give up its uranium enrichment activities.
Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharazi said in New York that his country wanted to produce enriched uranium to avoid reliance on supplies of nuclear fuel from Russia -- which is building Iran's first nuclear reactor.
"It's a matter of national pride to have this capability, this technology especially when it's produced domestically. This does not mean that producing (nuclear) weapons will be on our agenda," he told a business and security forum.
"The capability is the important thing, that we can produce enriched uranium ... needed for power plants as fuel," added Kharazi, in New York to attend the UN General Assembly.
"It is not our policy to have nuclear weapons because we don't believe it will bring security in Iran," he said.
The UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, is to send its first inspection team to Iran Sunday since imposing an October 31 deadline on Tehran to prove it is not secretly developing nuclear weapons.
But Iran announced Monday that it had launched a trial run at a uranium enrichment factory in Natanz, at the centre of Western concerns over its nuclear programme.
This was despite a September 12 resolution passed by the IAEA, that urged Iran to cease enrichment activities amid US allegations that the programme -- part of a bid to generate atomic power -- is merely a cover for nuclear weapons development.
The enrichment could also complicate efforts by the IAEA to account for traces of enriched uranium they found in Natanz, 250 kilometers (155 miles) south of Tehran and the site of 164 centrifuges, on a previous inspection -- traces that Iran said were on imported equipment.
The Iranian foreign minister blamed the United States for pressuring the IAEA into setting the October 31 deadline.
"The American administration put alot of pressure on the board of governors of the IAEA to issue this resolution. The IAEA believed it was not the time to make a judgement," he said.
The top Iranian diplomat also sidestepped the issue of whether Tehran was ready to sign an additional protocol with the nuclear watchdog that would allow tougher inspections of its atomic facilities.
"We are ready to negotiate on the additional protocol with the IAEA. The problem is that the Americans believe that additional protocol is not enough. If it's not enough, why should we sign it?
"The Americans say that you have to accept the additional protocol, at the same time you have to stop enrichment facilities. That's not acceptable," he said.
Kharazi also insisted that existing controls by the IAEA were sufficient to monitor its nuclear programme.
"It is true that we have the technology to enrich uranium, but as long as it is under the safeguards of the IAEA and under severe control regime of IAEA, there should be no concern," he said.
Kharazi finally countered criticism that his oil-rich nation had no need for nuclear power, saying that domestic consumption was eating up most of Iran's crude production because of booming economic growth. http://sg.news.yahoo.com/030925/1/3eg1s.html