NEW ENRICHING URANIUM PLANT FOUND NEAR TEHRAN
VIENNA, 26 Sept. (IPS) The Islamic Republic requested the International Atomic energy Agency to report the visit of the Agency’s inspectors one day after it was announced that experts had found new traces of weapons-grade enriched uranium at a second site in Iran.
"The Iranian government requested the delay to allow them more time to prepare for the visit", IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said Friday, explaining that Iran had made the demand in order to prepare itself ahead of an October 31 deadline to prove it has no secret atomic weapons program.
The team of U.N. nuclear inspectors were to fly to Tehran on Sunday, but Ms. Fleming said they would leave for Iran sometime late next week.
In a resolution adopted on 12 September, the Board of Governors of the Vienna-based IAEA gave the Islamic Republic until the end of October to sign "immediately and unconditionally" the additional protocol to the Non Proliferation Treaty and stop "at once" all its uranium enriching programs.
So far, and under pressures from the ruling hard liners, the Iranian government that is led by the powerless president Mohammad Khatami has not said if it would comply with the Resolution or not.
Singing the Protocol means United Nations would have the right to inspect all Iranian nuclear facilities and sites without restriction or prior announcement. In case Tehran rejects the Resolution, it might face international sanctions by the United Nations Security Council.
On Monday, Iran’s ambassador at the IAEA confirmed for the first time that Iran had started enriching uranium at plants it has built secretly near the central city of Natanz, using contaminated centrifuges it had bought years ago on the black market.
The inspectors’ visit was necessary to insure that Iranian claims that its nuclear programs are for civilian use are correct.
But the united States, Israel and the European Union believes that Iran's atomic activities, including the nuclear-powered electricity plant it is building in the Persian gulf city of Booshehr with the help of Russia are a "cover" for dvelopping atomic bomb aimed at destroying the Jewish state.
In an interview with "The USA Today" newspaper, French President Jacques Chirac called on Tehran to fully cooperate with the United Nations nuclear inspectors to make sure that its atomic activities are for peaceful purposes and warned that if not, it could face international sanctions.
In a speech at the UN’s General Assembly, President George W. Bush who has declared the Islamic Republic an "evil State" alongside North Korea and the former government of Saddam Hoseyn also warned that Tehran would face global condemnation.
Speaking to reporters in Washington today, President Bush said, "It is very important for the world to come together to make it very clear to Iran that there will be universal condemnation if they continue with a nuclear weapons program."
He said today that he intended to raise the Iranian nuclear issue at his planned Camp David meeting with the Russian President, Vladimir Putin.
But like Tehran, Moscow also insists that the 1000 megawatts, 800 million US Dollars plant is to produce electricity only.
According to diplomats who talked to reporters on condition of anonymity, the discovery of new enriching uranium site could support Tehran's explanation that the highly enriched uranium found by IAEA inspectors during previous visit was due to contamination from imported components.
But several other diplomats said it could support the U.S. theory that Iran has been secretly purifying uranium for use in a nuclear explosive device. The new finding, the result of environmental sampling at the Kalaye Electric Company plant near the Capital, further ratcheted up pressure on Iran, sources said.
The White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, said on Friday that the finding at the electric plant was "part of a longstanding pattern of evasions and deception to disguise the true nature and purpose of Iran's nuclear activities", the British news agency "Reuters" reported.
The news of the electric plant finding came as Iran's Foreign Affairs Minister, Kamal Kharrazi, told reporters in New York that his government was resisting domestic pressure to drop out of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty.
He said that in principle Iran had no problem acceding to the atomic energy agency's request to allow surprise inspections at nuclear facilities.
Conservatives-controlled media that usually reflects the views of Ayatollah ali Khameneh'i, the orthodox leader of the Islamic Republic have unanimously urged the government to emulate the Stalinist regime of North Korea and get out of the NPT.
The call was also reiterated by Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, the hard line Secretary of the powerful Guardians Council, asking "what is wrong with adopting North Korea’s policy in dealing with pressures from the IAEA?"
Pyongyang expelled all international experts last December, left the NPT and revived its atomic programs.
But Dr. Mohammad el-Bradeh’i, the Egyptian Director of the UN’s nuclear watchdog warned Iran against such a decision, telling reporters that in this case, Iran "would only make its situation more difficult, as it would to face the international community".
"If Iran fails to prove until the end of October that its nuclear activities are not for military use, it must be prepared for harsh punishments and sanctions by the Security Council", Mr. El-Barde’i said, adding that in case Iran fails to sign the additional Protocol and stop enriching uranium, the whole question would be referred to the Security Council.
Asked about the enriched uranium particles found in Natanz, Mr. Kharrazi, who was in New York for the United Nations General Assembly session, said that that enrichment itself was "not illegal" and had been begun there before the atomic energy agency had formally asked Tehran to stop any enrichment activities.
He also said that Ayatollah Khameneh’i has said that nuclear weapons are forbidden under Islamic law.
On Sunday, Iran held a military parade to honour the 23rd anniversary of the start of the eight years War with Iraq and prominently displayed its most modern missile, the Shahab-3 that a military announcer said it has a range of 1.700 kilometres, "capable of hitting the heart of the enemy", which means Israel. ENDS IAEA IRAN URANIUM 26903