Iran admits military industries produced nuclear centrifuges, says it will resume uranium enrichment
Iran's foreign minister, Kamal Kharrazi, accused the UN atomic energy watchdog of bowing to American influence. He said Tehran will react to any
improper decisions made by the IAEA.
Defense Minister Ali Shamkhani also told reporters the Iranian military had built nuclear centrifuges for civilian use - the first time Iran has
acknowledged its military was involved in the country's nuclear program.
IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei warned that Iran risked undermining its efforts to convince the world its nuclear intentions are peaceful.
"I think suspension is ... a good confidence-building measure, and Iran needs to do everything possible right now to create the confidence
required," ElBaradei said Wednesday in Vienna, Austria, where the U.N. atomic agency's board of governors was meeting.
The agency's 35-nation board of governors was preparing for a debate Thursday on whether Iran is living up to its pledge to full transparency on its
The United States, which suspects Iran is building nuclear arms, wants a draft resolution on Iran to take a tough line because of evidence of secrecy.
But the Europeans want to acknowledge Iran has made substantial, if not complete, steps toward openness.
A draft obtained by The Associated Press said the agency noted "with the most serious concern" that Iran's declarations "did not amount to the
correct, complete and final picture of Iran's past and present nuclear program."
But it also praised Iran for signing an agreement that granted a free hand to IAEA inspectors.
Iran's chief delegate to the IAEA, Pirouz Hosseini, told reporters outside the board of governors meeting that Iran was unhappy with the draft and
accused the United States of putting pressure on the Europeans.
"We have never been involved in any nuclear weapons program ... and the Americans don't want to accept the fact," Hosseini said.
In Tehran, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi accused the world body of failing to reciprocate.
"We told (the IAEA) that cooperation should be bilateral. We take steps and expect the other side to take steps. It can't go one-sided," Kharrazi
Kharrazi warned Britain, France and Germany - whose foreign ministers visited Tehran last year to discuss the nuclear issue - that Iran will stop
cooperating with them if they fail to resist U.S. pressure at the Vienna meeting.
"We recommend that the three European countries remain committed to their obligations (toward Tehran) and resist U.S. pressure, if they want ...
cooperation between Iran and them to lead to results," Kharrazi said. "Cooperation is a two-way street."
Kharrazi said Iran had a "legitimate right to enrich uranium" to fuel the nuclear reactor it is building to generate electrical power.
"We suspended uranium enrichment voluntarily and temporarily. Later, when our relations with the IAEA return to normal, we will definitely resume
(uranium) enrichment," Kharrazi said.
One of the reasons for the recent IAEA inspections of Iran's nuclear facilities was last year's discovery of undeclared uranium enrichment.
Kharrazi accused the IAEA of giving in to U.S. pressure.
"Unfortunately, the agency is sometimes influenced by the United States, while it should maintain its technical and professional identity," Kharrazi
Defense Minister Shamkhani said the military industries had produced P-1 centrifuges, which are used for low-grade enrichment, not the P-2 models used
for weapons-grade enriched uranium.
"We have produced P-1, not P-2, contrary to U.S. allegations," Shamkhani said.
"It's natural in the world that defense industries produce civilian parts," Shamkhani said, adding the industries also produce televisions and
parts for civilian planes and vehicles.
The IAEA has questioned Iran about blueprints for the more advanced P-2 centrifuges. Iran says the blueprints never got beyond the research stage.
A leading Iranian hard-line editor, Hossein Shariatmadari, urged the government Wednesday to give the IAEA an ultimatum.
"Iran has to set a deadline," Shariatmadari wrote in the newspaper Kayhan. "If Iran's nuclear dossier is not removed from the agency's agenda,
Iran must not only stop allowing unfettered inspections of its nuclear facilities, it must resume uranium enrichment and, possibly, even withdraw from
the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty."
The treaty commits its members to peaceful use of nuclear power.
Related ATSNN stories
- UN Nuke Watchdog Rejects Iran's Call to Close Case
- Israel Cracks Iran Code. Reveals Iran's Nuclear Program
- International Herald Tribune
- The Christian Science Monitor
- Radio Free Europe
[Edited on 11-3-2004 by Zion Mainframe]
[Edited on 16-3-2004 by SkepticOverlord]