Has anyone ever checked out the website of the International Atomic Energy Agency? But especially during weeks like the present one, when so many of the brightest stars of the nuclear firmament streak across the IAEA’s Vienna heavens? While there, have you ever detected so much as a trace of awareness that, when it comes to “nuclear security,” the greatest threat facing us stems not simply from the highly-enriched, “orphaned” nuclear material and the facilities which house it, vulnerable as they are to falling into the “wrong” hands? But, rather, from the whole global dynamic of the nuclear-weapons regime of the past six decades? A regime driven, not by terrorists and would-be-proliferators, but by the nuclear powers themselves, including the death and destruction and terror they cause almost daily with their so-called conventional weapons, on at least five continents?
Shortly after the events of 9/11, the IAEA sponsored a conference titled “Calculating the New Global Terrorism Threat” (Nov. 1, 2001). “[T]he ruthlessness of the 11 September attacks has alerted the world to the potential of nuclear terrorism,” an accompanying press release stated, “making it ‘far more likely’ that terrorists could target nuclear facilities, nuclear material and radioactive sources worldwide.”
Not to sound overly alarming, but the IAEA went on to report that the combined total of nuclear material used for peaceful purposes alone in the world had increased six-fold since 1970, spread across 438 nuclear power reactors, 651 research reactors, and 250 fuel cycle plants. (As for the amount of nuclear material that has been used for belligerent purposes? I don’t believe the conference reported an estimate.)
“[S]ince 1993, there have been 175 cases of trafficking in nuclear material and 201 cases of trafficking in other radioactive sources (medical, industrial),” the IAEA reported, of which, “18 of these cases have actually involved small amounts of highly enriched uranium or plutonium, the material needed to produce a nuclear bomb. IAEA experts judge the quantities involved to be insufficient to construct a nuclear explosive device.”
Remember: These estimates are three years old. That is to say, they predate the American wars over Afghanistan and Iraq, and other states’ collaboration in the so-called War on Terror, as well as the myriad forms of resistance these wars have bred. While I couldn’t possibly guess what the numbers might be today, clearly the kinds of motives we see reflected in the earlier estimates have rocketed skywards these past three years. Nor has this heightened motivation occurred in a vacuum—any more than the events which triggered the IAEA’s November, 2001 conference did. People serious about understanding, evaluating, and above all reducing the risks of nuclear terrorism will connect these dots and immediately discern a pattern. (At least they should.) But they will not remain neutral towards the global dynamic within which the dots cohere and acquire their contemporary meaning—and without which they would scatter to the winds. Nor will people truly concerned with these issues propose solutions to them which address only a few of the scattered dots, here and there, while leaving the really Big Dots around which the smaller ones orbit remain untouched.
Unfortunately, this seems to exclude most of the work presently being performed on the question of real nuclear security—as opposed to protecting this or that major nuclear power’s lethal stockpile from falling into the “wrong” hands-type questions. And similar irrelevancies.
Take, for example, Securing the Bomb: An Agenda for Action, published under the auspices of Harvard University’s Project on Managing the Atom (May, 2004). No doubt about it: This bunch has a clear agenda. The “most urgent and immediate steps,” they argue, are “those focused on securing nuclear stockpiles at their source, and interdicting nuclear smuggling” (p. 101; also pp. 30-38). The President absolutely must prioritize “securing and accounting for all the world’s nuclear stockpiles, and other steps to keep nuclear weapons and materials out of terrorist hands, as a top national priority of the United States and an integral part of the war on terrorism…” (p. 102). Towards this end the Harvard bunch recognizes the importance of a joint effort between Washington and Moscow, as these two states alone “possess more than 95% of the world’s nuclear weapons and more than 85% of the world’s weapons-usable nuclear material” (p. 101)—the crux of the problem in the first place. But this Harvard bunch wastes not a single sentence on the world’s need—the hell with what Washington and Moscow need—to reduce and eventually eliminate this principal source of whatever dangers follow from the possession of nuclear weapons, beginning with these two nuclear-rich hyper-powers. This remind me of the tactics habitually adopted by the declared nuclear powers when confronted with disarmament issues. The declared powers always insist on placing the goal of non-proliferation ahead of disarmament—then throw back their arms in amazement when non-proliferation doesn’t work, either.
(Quick aside. Most recently, for example, in the deliberations before the General Assembly’s adoption of Resolution 58/317 (Aug. 5). Although this Resolution incorporated very strong language reaffirming the “need for all Member States to fulfill their obligations in relation to arms control and disarmament and to prevent the proliferation in all its aspects of weapons of mass destruction,” even adding that the “ultimate objective of the efforts of States in the disarmament process is general and complete disarmament” (par. 12), the representatives of the United States, Russia, the European Union, and Canada all took exception to the resolution, on grounds that it contained an “imbalance,” with “more emphasis on nuclear disarmament, and non-proliferation mentioned only in passing,” here quoting E.U. representative Arjan Hamburger of the Netherlands (Press Release GA/10249, Aug. 5, 2004).)
The Harvard bunch also takes their readers on a tour of what they call the “Seven Myths of Nuclear Terrorism and Nuclear Theft” (Ch. 2, “Updating the threat”). Each of these seven “myths” pertain to the reality of the threat of nuclear terrorism: The myth is a myth because it denies the threat; the act of debunking the myth is to show the threat is real.—Thus they acknowledge that the Americans play a role in the world outside U.S. territory; that the world responds to what the Americans do; and so on. “In the war on terrorism,” they observe (pp. 9-10),
the past year has seen events that both reduce and heighten the danger of a terrorist nuclear strike….At the same time, with the invasion of Iraq and continuing Israeli-Palestinian violence, hostility toward the United States in the Islamic world has grown to “shocking” levels (as a recent report commissioned by the State Department puts it), providing al Qaeda and other groups with new opportunities to recruit—which could include recruits capable of providing nuclear weapon expertise or access to the materials needed to make a nuclear bomb.
The bottom line is that al Qaeda, its affiliates, and its imitators remain a deadly and highly capable threat, to the United States and other countries around the world.
All true. All so undeniably and so tragically true. But this is just about as far as this Harvard bunch is willing or able to go in understanding the global dynamic that drives the threat of nuclear weapons in the world—some ninety-nine-point-something percent of which they have no interest in addressing whatsoever. A pathetic showing—this whole Nuclear Threat Initiative‘s (which commissioned the Harvard study). There is no greater myth within the range of issues at hand than this Harvard bunch’s intellectual denial—or, if it isn’t denial, then they simply don’t give a damn—that the policies of the two states which possess 95 percent of the world’s nukes and which form the basis of their analysis—the American and the Russian—might be related in some non-trivial and, furthermore, highly rational way to the individuals and the groups and the other states seeking to acquire fissile nuclear material for use in weapons, either as a deterrent against the predatory behavior of other states or, catastrophically far worse, directly against the Americans or the Russians. I think this problem requires more than a couple of columns of printed text in a splashy report from some academics. No wonder the Americans keep causing so many problems in the world. For reasons of power and ideology—and these days there is none thicker than in the States—their “best and brightest” grow dimmer with each succeeding generation.
Or take the IAEA’s labors on behalf of the nuclear non-proliferation of the Government of Iran. On Saturday, the IAEA’s Board of Governors (35 member states in all) adopted a resolution (GOV/2004/79), the net effects of which are three: Iran remains stuck, indefinitely, under the glare of the IAEA’s magnifying glass; Iran’s right to develop uranium-enrichment capabilities for peaceful purposes is the issue that has been selected by the Americans for relentless challenge (see par. 3 of the resolution); and the Americans, British, French, and Germans are pushing the IAEA’s work on Iran toward becoming the concern of the UN Security Council (pars. 7-9)—even more an instrument of American Power than the IAEA is.
(Quick aside. As always, I strongly urge you to turn directly to the IAEA document titled Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran (GOV/2004/60), September 1, 2004. When Tehran says—as its officials have been saying all along—things like Saturday’s Resolution “does not coordinate with the cooperation that the Islamic Republic of Iran showed” the IAEA’s inspectors, and “does not even coordinate with the report of the General Secretary of the Agency,” here quoting Mohammad Shariati, an advisor to President Mohammad Khatami (Al Jazeera TV, Sept. 19—see below), this is the document to which they are referring. But again, as always, the actual text of the IAEA document does not matter. What matters is the political mileage the Americans have been able to get by playing their Iranian cards—“nuclear proliferation,” “sponsor of terrorism,” and “theocratic state”—and the number of members of the IAEA’s Board they were able to bully into voting in favor of the Resolution.)
Now. Resisting this kind of pressure, the Iranian President announced yesterday (to cull a few quotes from various wire-service reports—sorry, but I can’t find a copy of his official “Sacred Defense Week” speech, so we’ll have to live with this for the time being):
“We’ve made our choice: Yes to peaceful nuclear technology, no to atomic weapons.” “We will continue along our path even if it leads to an end to international supervision.” “We’ve made our choice. Now it is up to others to make their choice.” “I declare to the world that whether we are under supervision or not, we won’t go for nuclear weapons at all. We won’t go for nuclear weapons not because we fear others, but because of our beliefs and principles, because we oppose nuclear weapons and consider them a threat to humanity.” “This is the decision of our political establishment. And nobody can prevent us from doing something to which we are entitled according to all the international conventions to which we are a member.” “We have decided to go ahead in all areas. Various technologies which are necessary for a nation and a political establishment to become powerful, including the peaceful nuclear technology.”
“They,” Khatami also is quoted as saying, referring to the IAEA and, ultimately, the Americans (and the Israelis), “have to explicitly recognize our natural and legal right.” Meaning, of course, Iran’s legal right as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to pursue nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.
No sooner did Khatami’s words get into circulation than reports started emanating from Israel that (“Eyeing Iran Reactors, Israel Seeks U.S. Bunker Bombs,” Reuters, Sept. 21):
The United States plans to sell Israel $319 million worth of air-launched bombs, including 500 “bunker busters” that could be effective against Iran’s underground nuclear facilities, Israeli security sources said on Tuesday….”This is not the sort of ordnance needed for the Palestinian front. Bunker busters could serve Israel against Iran, or possibly Syria,” an Israeli source said.
Reuters cited a report in the prestigious Israeli daily Haaretz, which itself had reported the same morning that “The funding will come from the U.S. military aid to Israel….[Israeli] Government sources said the bomb deal, one of the largest weapons deals of recent years, did not face any political difficulties, despite the use Israel has made of U.S.-made F-16s in some of its assassinations in the territories. The IDF used a one-ton bomb to kill a senior Hamas officer, Salah Shehadeh, in July 2002, an assassination that also took the lives of 15 Palestinian civilians, including children.” (Aluf Benn, “U.S. to sell Israel 5,000 smart bombs,” Sept. 21.) (At least it’s good to know that both the suppliers and the end-users of these homicidal weapons have no problems with any of this.)
And then, today, more of the same, though now couched as denial rather than simple affirmation: “I’m not aware of any plans to attack Iran,” the American Secretary of State told reporters at the UN Bldg. in New York City. The relevant part of the exchange with Colin Powell went exactly as follows (“Remarks After Meeting with the Community of Democracies,” Sept. 22):
QUESTION: Secretary Powell, the Israeli Foreign Minister said he will not rule out the possibility of attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities. Does the U.S. approve of that action? Would the U.S. approve of that?
SECRETARY POWELL: I am not aware of any plans to attack Iran. Every nation has all options available to it. I think we, working in the world of diplomacy and politics—I had a good discussion with Foreign Minister [Silvan] Shalom yesterday and covered with him what we’re doing with the European Union and the IAEA.
The resolution that came out of the IAEA last week everybody agreed to, and I think there’s a clear understanding now that Iran must satisfy the concerns that have been expressed by the international community by the time of the November meeting. And if it doesn’t do that by the time of the November IAEA meeting, I think there will be every reason, at that point, to send the matter on to the Security Council.
So we’re talking about diplomacy and political efforts to stop this movement on the part of the Iranians toward a nuclear weapon and we’re not talking about strikes, but every option always, of course, remains on the table.
Every nation has all options available to it? Every option always remains on the table? But for whom, exactly?
To be perfectly honest, I do not anticipate anything beyond all of this very public noise about the Americans’ forthcoming gift to Israel of 500 BLU-109 warheads, “which can penetrate 15 feet of fortifications” and belong to “package meant to ‘contribute significantly to U.S. strategic and tactical objectives’” (Reuters again), to be shared with the people of Iran anytime soon. On the contrary. What it looks like to me is that the Americans and the Israelis are so addicted to striking out at “threats” real and imaginary that they can’t seem to run their governments, let along engage in relations with others, without this kind of belligerence.
But the whole “bunker-busters” business is a great big show. (We had better hope. Anyway.) For if the true intent of the proposed arms transfer were to destroy an underground (literally underground) Iranian nuclear weapons complex (which I will bet you doesn’t even exist), why advertise it for so long before the fact? The Israeli Government of Menachem Begin didn’t advertise its June, 1981 airstrikes against the Osirak nuclear power plant in Iraq. Did it? Not before the fact.
(Quick aside. Notice I just wrote Osirak nuclear power plant—not Osirak nuclear weapons plant, as one of the enduring myths of the nuclear age has maintained for all these years.)
If, on the other hand, the true intent behind these latest Israeli and American displays of belligerence were not to destroy a (non-existent) underground Iranian nuclear weapons complex, but to keep accusations about Tehran’s noncompliance with a series of American-manufactured, IAEA-mediated demands dating back to February, 2003 (at least) before the “international community”—and before the very captive American mind back in the States—then why not advertise it? Why not advertise it to the hilt?
During the arm-twisting in Vienna last weekend that led, eventually, to the IAEA’s adoption of Resolution 2004/79, reports say that some resistance to the American mission coalesced (believe it or not) among the 13 member-states of the Board of Governors that belong to the Non-Aligned Movement—all 110 or so of them. (The NAM’s exact number today isn’t merely a trivia question. Some of its longstanding member states currently happen to be occupied by foreign powers. While others have been dismembered by foreign powers. And still others face similar fates in the years ahead.)
“The non-aligned states may even call for a vote on the two most disputed paragraphs of the resolution,” Agence France Press reported last Saturday, “an almost unheard of measure at the [IAEA] which tends to operate by consensus.”
Then, two-thirds of the way through its story, AFP added this (“Differences remain on Iran text at UN atomic energy agency,” Sept. 18):
US delegation chief Jackie Sanders read to reporters Saturday a statement from President George W. Bush’s top non-proliferation official Under Secretary of State John Bolton which said: “The United States fully endorses the draft resolution.”
“Iran remains completed isolated in its pursuit of nuclear weapons and the draft resolution to be considered this morning makes that clear.”
A US official said the stubborn objections to the compromise text showed that “the non-aligneds, which consult often with Iran, have gotten the message” that this time is different and that the IAEA is ready to crack down on Iran, and send it to the Security Council if necessary.
Yes, Messrs. Powell and Bolton, Ms. Sanders, Mr. Shalom, and the rest of you. The non-aligneds have gotten the message.
Boy. Have they ever gotten it.
Feeling any safer?
Postscript. For those of you who, like me, already believe that the IAEA operates very much as an instrument of American Power, take a look at the following PHOTO. It comes straight from one of the IAEA’s webpages. According to the caption accompanying the photo, it depicts “IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei (left), U.S. Secretary Spencer Abraham (center) and U.S. Ambassador Kenneth Brill at the press conference following the announcement of the [Americans’ Global Threat Reduction Initiative] 26 May in Vienna, Austria” (“IAEA Welcomes US New Global Threat Reduction Initiative,” May 27, 2004)). So, Tehran can’t refine uranium without the Americans-slash-IAEA coming down upon its head. But the Americans can possess so many nuclear weapons and such vast stocks of fissile material that the IAEA is more than happy to help them keep better track of it. And to top it all off, they staged this show at the IAEA’s headquarters in Vienna!
“Calculating the New Global Terrorism Threat,” IAEA Press Release, November 1, 2001
Securing the Bomb: An Agenda for Action, Matthew Bunn and Anthony Wier, Project on Managing the Atom, Harvard University, May, 2004
Nuclear Security—Measures To Protect Against Nuclear Terrorism (GOV/2004/50-GC(48)/6), Mohamed ElBaradei et al., IAEA, August, 2004
Implementation of the NPT Safeguards Agreement in the Islamic Republic of Iran (GOV/2004/60), IAEA, September 1, 2004
Resolution 2004/79, September 18, 2004
“UN nuclear watchdog calls on Iran to suspend all uranium-enrichment activities,” UN News Center, September 20, 2004
“IAEA’s Role in Maintenance of International Security as Vital as Ever” (SG/SM/9486), Statement on Behalf of the UN Secretary-General, September 20, 2004
***** Statement to the Forty-Eighth Regular Session of the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Reza Aghazadeh, Vice-President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, September, 2004 *****
“Iran’s Dire Threat (It might be able to defend itself),” Edward S. Herman, Z Magazine, October, 2004
FYA (“For your archives”): A handful of reports in an effort to convey the point of view of Tehran. (Though do not miss Tehran’s important Statement to the IAEA (September, 2004).)
Federal News Service
September 20, 2004 Monday
HEADLINE: INTERVIEW WITH MOHAMMAD SHARIATI, ADVISOR TO IRANIAN PRESIDENT MOHAMMAD KHATAMI, DISCUSSING THE IRANIAN NUCLEAR PROGRAM (AL JAZEERA TV, 23:29 (GMT+2) SEPT. 19, 2004)
(Note: The following was translated from Arabic)
ANCHOR: General Secretary for the National Iranian Council, Hasan Rohani said that Tehran refuses to commit to the decision of the International Atomic Energy Agency to coercively stop enriching uranium.
Rohani clarified that his country is committed to this position. This came several hours after the Agency made a decision that encourages Iran to stop all the systems that are connected to enrichment and gives it until the 25th of November as the last date for the final revision of its nuclear program.
And with me from Tehran is Mohammad Shariati, advisor to the Iranian President Mohammad Khatami.
Mr. Shariati, how does Tehran respond to the American Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham’s message?
MOHAMMAD SHARIATI: In the name of God most merciful, most gracious. There is no doubt that the decision of the Agency is considered a decision against Iran and does not coordinate with the cooperation that the Islamic Republic of Iran showed. It does not even coordinate with the report of the General Secretary of the Agency.
From here, Iran decided to cooperate with the General Secretary and declared that it will cooperate with the Agency and its General Secretary because the report was positive. And the wise ones in Iran want to get over this obstacle and know the hostile American policy in this region.
Iran wants to get over this obstacle and as you know, there are different variables on Iranian ground especially after what happened in the elections of the Islamic Advisory Council, and there are greater pressures by forces that did not understand the diplomatic work. But I predict that the extremists on both sides tend to turn the Iranian case to the Security Council while some Europeans and the reformists in Iran do not want things to develop more negatively than they already have.
ANCHOR: Mr. Shariati, you say that Iran truly wants to get over this obstacle, but there are conditions that you are demanded to perform. You have been given a time limit until November, you were also asked to allow inspections without any delays, etc.
How will you deal with that when you say that you will not commit to any decision that forces you to do what you do not want to do?
MOHAMMAD SHARIATI: Before this time limit, we were committed to what the Agency asked us to do in this field. And we consider the pressures more political than they are technical or legal. Hence we do not consider the main issue that we were asked to do, which is to stop enriching uranium and to stop producing (– inaudible–).
So we do not agree not to own any peaceful nuclear technology. It is inevitable to own it and we have the right to, and it is proved in the agreement that we signed. Stepping over this stage will help us deal with the Agency from a positive point of view.
ANCHOR: Mohammad Shariati, Advisor to the Iranian President Mohammad Khatami, thank you very much.
Agence France Presse — English
September 20, 2004 Monday 1:36 PM GMT
HEADLINE: Iran’s president says will resist “exorbitant” nuclear demands
DATELINE: TEHRAN Sept 20
President Mohammad Khatami vowed Monday that Iran would resist “exorbitant demands” amid calls from the UN nuclear watchdog for an immediate halt to sensitive nuclear work.
“We will resist the exorbitant demands of the great powers,” Khatami was quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA.
“What has happened in the past few days on the nuclear dossier is a sign of the moral decadence of the world and the pre-eminence of force and hypocrisy in international relations,” he said.
The Iranian government’s spokesman, Abdollah Ramazanzadeh, also asserted any decision regarding the enrichment of uranium was for Tehran alone to take despite the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) resolution demanding a suspension of enrichment-related activities.
“The suspension of enrichment is a voluntary act on our part, and it it us who will decide when we will lift it,” said the spokesman for the Islamic republic’s reformist government in a weekly press briefing.
Iran agreed last year to suspend the enrichment of uranium pending the completion of an IAEA probe, but has continued to press on with related work in the nuclear fuel cycle.
On Saturday the IAEA’s board passed a resolution calling on Iran to also suspend the nuclear-related activities.
Iran, which asserts it wants to enrich uranium to produce fuel for reactors and not to make a nuclear bomb, has repeatedly said it reserves the right to resume such activities at any time.
“We will maintain the suspension” of enrichment, spokesman Ramazanzadeh said, but added “there was no international law that could constrain us” if enrichment was resumed.
Despite the angry response to the resolution, Iran has signalled it will negotiate.
On Sunday, the cleric in charge of Iran’s nuclear negotiations rejected the resolution and threatened to halt stringent IAEA inspections if the issue was referred to the UN Security Council, something the United States is pushing for.
But he said Iran could only accept a suspension “through negotiations” — signalling fresh talks were ahead before the IAEA’s board meets again in November.
Nuclear fuel cycle work, including enrichment, is permitted under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) if it is for peaceful purposes.
But Iran has been under pressure to stop because the process of enriching uranium can be used both to produce fuel for a nuclear reactor or the core of a nuclear bomb.
The three European countries that have been spearheading negotiations — Britain, France and Germany — have been pushing for Iran to abandon such work completely in exchange for increased trade and political benefits.
Ramazanzadeh signalled there was still no desire in the regime to accept such an offer.
“We consider that it is our right to acquire nuclear technology on the basis of international conventions … and we know that nobody in the world can deprive us of this right,” he told reporters.
But he said Iran would continue to cooperate with the IAEA, despite calls from some hardliners here for a pull-out from the NPT — the path taken by North Korea –, even if, he said, the IAEA was bending to “pressure from some countries”, a reference to the United States.
“We saw in Iraq how many of the American assertions were wrong and baseless, and today it is the turn of Iran,” he said, referring to the pre-war charges that Saddam Hussein was concealing mass destruction weapons.
He also responded to a report in Newsweek magazine saying US spy agencies have played out “war games” to consider possible pre-emptive strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities, and concluded that strikes would not resolve Washington’s standoff with Tehran.
“Over the past 25 years we have become used to this kind of thing from the Americans,” said Ramazanzadeh.
Iran and the United States cut off diplomatic relations in 1980.
“They know the Iranian nation will not give up in the face of such threats. We have taken preventative measure and are persuaded that if an attack happened … we are capable of defending ourselves,” he said.
United Press International
September 20, 2004 Monday
HEADLINE: Analysis: Iran defiant on nuclear demands
BYLINE: By MODHER AMIN
DATELINE: TEHRAN, Sept. 19 (UPI)
Iran Sunday dismissed the U.N. nuclear watchdog’s demand to freeze uranium enrichment, saying the country would not accept any obligation as the process was a right respected by the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Iran’s secretary of the Supreme National Security Council and chief nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rowhani, told reporters that the Islamic republic had never accepted the suspension of uranium enrichment under a resolution, and that his country could only be asked through negotiations to continue the suspension.
Asked whether Iran would resume work on fuel cycle, he said his country was committed to the suspension of “actual enrichment,” and “we have no decision to expand the suspension yet.”
“This demand is illegal and does not put any obligation on Iran,” Rowhani said. “The International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of directors has no right to make such a suspension obligatory for any country.”
In an accord reached last October with the “big three” European countries — Britain, France and Germany — Iran suspended enrichment as a confidence-building measure, but continued support activities such as building the centrifuges that refine the uranium.
“The aim of the suspension which was announced last year … was to build trust, but the situation today is different from that last year since there are no ambiguities regarding our peaceful nuclear activities now,” Rowhani said.
Some analysts say Tehran may see the very last stage of the process as actual enrichment, namely, turning the hexafluoride gas into a high-purity uranium which is done by high-speed spinning.
Besides resumption of work on the sophisticated P2 centrifuges this summer, Iran recently talked of plans to convert some 37 metric tons of raw uranium into uranium hexafluoride. Rowhani asserted Sunday that Iran enjoyed enough expertise to produce fuel for its reactors without foreign assistance.
According to its obligations to the NPT, Iran is not prohibited from enrichment. But, for months, it has faced international pressure to suspend the process as a good-faith gesture. The Western resolution adopted Saturday by the IAEA board of directors goes further, demanding a stop to enrichment and related activities.
The resolution, drafted by Britain, France and Germany, sets an implicit November deadline for a full review of Iran’s nuclear program, while calling on Iran to clear up “outstanding issues” with the agency before the board meets on Nov. 25. It also asks IAEA chief Mohammad El Baradei to submit a report reviewing the past two years of inspections in the country.
In its resolution, the IAEA keeps open the option of taking Iran before the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions should Tehran fail to comply with the demands.
“If they want to send Iran to the Security Council, it is not wise, and we will stop implementing the additional protocol (which allows snap nuclear checks),” Rowhani said.
The Iranian official also chided the Europeans for what he called failing to honor their “political and moral commitments” they took during a meeting in Tehran last year. He said Iran “will register this in their record book as a case of the three countries’ inability to live up to their promises.” He also warned Iran might quit NPT should pressures step up.
Earlier on Saturday, some members of the Iranian Parliament — now controlled by the conservatives — talked of a plan to boycott economic cooperation with Britain, according to the Iranian press.
A majority of deputies have also been considering, for the past few weeks, a plan for the enrichment of uranium to make it binding for the reformist government of President Mohammad Khatami, while they have still to ratify the additional protocol that Iran has been implementing for a year.
Addressing a session of Parliament Sunday, Speaker Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel complained of the Europeans’ “behavior,” warning that “any action bears its reaction.” He said an order on suspending uranium enrichment ran counter to the IAEA’s articles of association.
“Opposition to enrichment, which supplies fuel for power plants, is an indication of political ruling of big powers over the agency,” he said. “This performance has caused the agency to abandon its legal status and become a tool for serving the interests of certain countries, particularly America.”
On Friday, the Europeans and the representatives of the Non-Aligned Movement nations at the 35-member IAEA board opposed Washington’s demand to set an Oct. 31 ultimatum for Tehran to fully suspend uranium enrichment. In case of non-compliance, the so-called “trigger mechanism” would automatically refer the Islamic republic to the Security Council for possible sanctions.
“America, despite making all efforts to have Iran’s nuclear file referred to the U.N. Security Council, did not achieve any of its goals,” Rowhani said, while the Americans praised the text even before it was passed.
“Iran remains completely isolated in its pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the draft resolution makes that clear,” U.S. Undersecretary of State John Bolton said in a statement.
Iran’s chief delegate to the IAEA meeting, Hussein Mousavian, repudiated Saturday the draft resolution, saying it smacked more of politics.
“Iran considers (the resolution) as totally political and the Europeans’ behavior as illogical,” he said, according to the official Islamic Republic News Agency.
In spite of all immediate and critical reactions by the Iranian authorities, analysts say the resolution has still left Iran some room for maneuvering, but, at the same time, it raises the prospect of new confrontation with the United States when the IAEA’s board of directors reconvenes in two months’ time.
Elaborating on differences which may exist between positions of the United States and the key European countries on his country’s program to produce fuel for power plants, Rowhani said Washington “is totally against Iran’s fuel production, but the Europeans agree with part of the fuel producing at specified degrees.”
Uranium should be refined to high grades of above 90 percent purity in order to be used as the explosive core of an atomic bomb, while much lower purities would suffice for a reactor.
Rowhani also stressed that the Islamic republic was still open to negotiations to sort out the tangle.
“Iranian nuclear case may be closed in November or may cause extra trouble for Iran, but there is a possibility to resolve the row through diplomatic means,” he said.
“We want to prove to the international community that our nuclear program is for civilian purposes,” he further said. “We have done a lot to do so, and will go on taking such actions in future too, because we are willing to develop better relationship with the international community. We don’t like confrontation and crisis.”
Iran maintains its nuclear program is solely aimed at power generation, rejecting U.S. accusations that the program is a cover to build an atomic bomb.
The Associated Press
September 21, 2004, Tuesday, BC cycle
HEADLINE: Khatami says Iran will pursue nuclear program with or without U.N. inspections
BYLINE: By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer
DATELINE: TEHRAN, Iran
President Mohammad Khatami said Tuesday that Iran will continue a nuclear program some suspect is aimed at developing weapons, even if that means an end to U.N. oversight.
“We’ve made our choice: yes to peaceful nuclear technology, no to atomic weapons,” Khatami said at a military parade in Tehran. “We will continue along our path even if it leads to an end to international supervision” of our nuclear activities.
As a member of the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran allows supervision to ensure its nuclear programs are peaceful. Under international pressure last year, Iran agreed to a more aggressive inspection regime under an additional protocol to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
The IAEA demanded last weekend that Iran freeze uranium enrichment and related activities, such as the building of centrifuges, within two months. Failure to do so could lead to the IAEA’s passing Iran’s nuclear file to the U.N. Security Council, which could impose sanctions.
The United States believes Iran is covertly developing nuclear weapons and has been lobbying for the country to be referred to the Security Council. Iran insists that its nuclear program is strictly for the generation of electricity.
“They have to explicitly recognize our natural and legal right (to peaceful nuclear energy) to open the way for greater understanding and cooperation,” Khatami said.
“We’ve made our choice. Now it is up to others to make their choice,” he added.
Khatami said Iran would not seek nuclear weapons regardless of IAEA supervision.
“I declare to the world that whether we are under supervision or not, we won’t go for nuclear weapons at all,” he said.
Iranian officials have denounced as “illegal” demands by IAEA that Iran cease enrichment, a process that can produce fuel for both nuclear power stations and nuclear weapons. While critics have said that Iran could import enriched uranium for power stations, Iran insists that it will develop its own fuel supplies.
Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Hasan Rowhani has threatened that if Iran is referred to the U.N. Security Council, the country will halt the unfettered IAEA inspections that it agreed to last year. Iran’s parliament has yet to ratify the additional protocol that authorizes them.
Iran says it already has the technology to manage the whole cycle of nuclear fuel – from extracting uranium ore to enriching it. Critics argue that a country which controls the fuel cycle would be able to produce a nuclear bomb.
Iran is not prohibited from enriching uranium under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, but it has come under strong international pressure to stop enrichment and centrifuge construction as questions remain unanswered about the scope of its nuclear program.
Iranians are proud of their nuclear development. It is one of the few points on which there is consensus across the political spectrum.
Khatami spoke at a ceremony marking the anniversary of Iran’s 1980-88 war with Iraq. The parade included an example of Iran’s ballistic missile, the Shahab-3, which has the capacity to carry nuclear warheads.
Referring to Saddam Hussein, the ousted Iraqi dictator whom Iranians blame for the war, Khatami said: “The invader of yesterday is now in the quagmire of humiliation, captivity, disgrace and misery – a quagmire prepared by the same people (America) who encouraged him (Saddam) to invade Iran.”
September 22, 2004 Wednesday
HEADLINE: Referral of Iran’s nuclear case to UN indicates IAEA’s failure:Khatami, XINHUA
TEHRAN, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) — Iranian President Mohammad Khatami said Wednesday that any possible referral of Iran’s nuclear case to the United Nations Security Council is an indication of the UN nuclear watchdog’s failure, the official IRNA news agency reported.
“I hope Iran’s nuclear case would not be referred to the UN Security Council,” Khatami was quoted as saying.
“If the referral really takes place, it will just indicate the failure of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its impotence to solve a problem by its own,” Khatami said. “We will try our best to prevent that result,” he added. The president further pointed out that the United States would not have a better chance to pressurize Iran even if the case were discussed among the Security Council members.
“Of course, Washington would not find a better chance in the Security Council too, because there are some others in the Security Council who will oppose the US stands,” said Khatami. “The discussion of Iran’s case would not, at the same time, prevent Tehran from using its legitimate and international rights on developing nuclear technology,” Khatami added.
Khatami also reiterated that Iran would not withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty but warned that Tehran would continue its nuclear program even without the IAEA supervision.
“If they (western countries) still insist on depriving Iran of its rights, then we will use the technology at any cost, even if, it would be no longer under the IAEA supervision,” Khatami said.
“Whether under the supervision or not, the Islamic Republic will never move towards finding access to the atomic weapons,” Khatami stressed.
The IAEA Board of governors’ meeting on Saturday adopted a resolution, urging Iran to suspend all of its nuclear activities and fully cooperate with the inspectors to clear up all related issues.
The new resolution has been criticized and rejected by Iran, which termed it as “illegal”.
The United States, accusing Iran of secretly developing atomic weapons, has been consistently trying to prompt the IAEA to refer Iran’s case to the UN Security Council.
Tehran has been denying the US accusation, asserting that it is politically motivated and Iran’s nuclear research is fully peaceful.