IAEA: Iran Has Given the World the Run-around
August 30, 2003
The Jerusalem Post
A recent report by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Iran shows Tehran has lied about its nuclear programme but offers no proof that the country is developing atomic weapons, diplomats and nuclear experts in Vienna said this week.
Iran says its nuclear project is designed to generate electricity for civilian use. Israel and the US claim Iran has embarked on a nuclear weapons program which could be online within one year.
The IAEA report, extracts of which have been released to the media, and which the UN's nuclear watchdog is due to unveil in September, says the IAEA has found material indicative of different phases of uranium enrichment at Iran's nuclear facility in Natanz.
IAEA Secretary General Mohamed El Baradei this week told reporters the discovery of "highly enriched uranium" in Iran was "very worrying".
The report says UN inspectors also found UF-4 (uranium tetra fluoride) and UF-6 (uranium hexafluoride), molecular compounds used in the enrichment process, in nuclear centrifuges in Iran. El Baradei agreed that Iran, and other nations, had a history of misleading the world about their nuclear programs.
"They [Iran, pre-war Iraq and North Korea] have been giving the international community the run-around," he said.
"IAEA inspectors found two different types of highly enriched particles. You do not need that to make nuclear power," one Western diplomat told AFP.
In an interview on the BBC television program 'Hardtalk', Mohamed El Baradei said that Iran's nuclear program had been going on far longer than the agency had realized. "It would have been easier for us to complete our job if we knew what was going on as early as the mid 1980s," El Baradei said. "Now we have to go 20 years back."
El Baradei called on Iran to quickly sign a protocol giving the IAEA the right to carry out intrusive, short notice inspections across the country. "The international community's getting very concerned, very impatient," EI Baradei said about the situation in Iran.
El Baradei added that his agency was aware that Iran had shopped for nuclear components on the international black market and called on Tehran to disclose "the full and complete story, and be more proactive and transparent." Although he would not be drawn to disclose the names of the countries that made the equipment Iran had acquired on the black market, EI Baradei said he had a "pretty good idea" which ones they were.
"It could be one country, it could be more than one country," El Baradei said. "They (Iran) told us they have got a lot of that stuff from the black market. It is through intermediaries. It is not directly from the country."
France said in May in a report to the 40-state Nuclear Supplier's Group (NSG) that Iran has tried to buy nuclear material from French manufacturers and estimated it "could develop nuclear weapons within a few years". The NSG is a group of states that cooperate to ensure that nuclear exports are made only under appropriate safeguards, physical protection, nonproliferation conditions, and other appropriate constraints.
The IAEA's board of governors is slated to convene in early September. Should it pronounce Iran in violation, the issue could then reach the UN Security Council and trigger possible deliberations on sanctions.
Meanwhile, European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana asked Iran to agree to snap inspections of its nuclear facilities as a key demand for closer EU trade ties, an EU official told reporters on Friday. His spokeswoman Christina Gallach told Reuters: ''No doubt about that. Full cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency is requested and sought from the Iranian authorities.The position of the European Union is that Iran has to sign the Additional Protocol,'' she said.
Solana is expected to meet Iran's President Mohammad Khatami and Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi on Saturday, and may also hold talks with Gholamreza Aghazadeh, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization.
"We don't have any programs to develop nuclear weapons,'' Kharazi told CNN in an interview. Iran will accept more intrusive inspections "as long as Iran's rights and dignity'' are respected, he said.
According to a report published Friday in the Washington Times, Israel has made plans to bomb an Iranian nuclear power plant if it begins producing weapons grade material.
Military commanders have mapped out a route Israeli fighter jets would take to destroy the Bushehr reactor on the Persian Gulf, the Washington Times reported.
Israeli jets bombed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor near Baghdad in 1981, a move condemned by most of the International community at that time. Analysts however believe Israel's strike stopped Saddam Hussein from acquiring a nuclear bomb.
According to the report in the Washington Times, U.S. Central Command has contingency plans for war with Iran, but there is "no active discussion of invading [Iran]" to take out its nuclear plant.
Russia has been helping Iran build its first nuclear plant for eight years in a deal worth 500 million ($546 million) to cash-strapped Moscow.
Both Russia and Iran say Iran's nuclear plans are purely for civilian energy purposes. Israel and the US say Iran could use the technology to build a bomb, a charge Iran strongly denies. The EU has stopped short of accusing Iran of developing a nuclear weapons program, but has urged Iran to remove all doubt by submitting to sport inspections of its nuclear facilities.
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Friday that Iran is likely to reach the point of no return for nuclear capability within one year and called on Russia to stop providing the Islamic Republic with assistance, Israel Radio reported.
Shalom added that a nuclear Iran could change the strategic balance in the Middle East.
Iran has vowed repeatedly to "wipe Israel off the map".
Iran, a signatory to the UN's Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, has tested 600-mile-range ballistic missiles that can reach Israel and carry nuclear, biological or chemical warheads.
Israel's nuclear capabilities will be open to discussion for the first time at an international conference organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna on September 15-19. The topic, 'Israeli Nuclear Capabilities and Threats' would be on the agenda at the IAEA's conference.
The Arab League proposal for the discussion was submitted by Oman. http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost/A/JPArticle/ShowFull&cid=1062228118795