PARIS, 20 Nov. (IPS) As Iran prepares itself for suspending enriching uranium from Monday 22 November 2004, diplomats in Vienna said Saturday 20 November that Tehran was transforming important quantities of yellow cake into hexafluoride gas that could be used for making nuclear weapon.
"This is a sheer lie. I strongly reject it. In contrary, Iran is preparing itself to suspend production of UF6", Hoseyn Moussavian, one of Iran's senior negotiator with the international nuclear watchdog and the European Union told the British news agency Reuters in Tehran asking about new charges.
This is a sheer lie. I strongly reject it. In contrary, Iran is preparing itself to suspend production of UF6
"The Iranians are producing UF6 (uranium hexafluoride) like hell", Reuters quoted a non-U.S. diplomat on the governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). "The machines are running", the diplomat added, as President George W. Bush was expressing concern about Iran’s nuclear activities with counterparts from Russia, China and Japan in Santiago de Chile.
"This is a very serious matter", Mr. Bush said, adding, "The world knows it's a serious matter and we're working together to solve".
However, he praised the European Union’s so called “Big 3” for being able to bring the Islamic Republic to suspend enriching uranium.
While Tehran insists vehemently that it has no plan to build nuclear weapons and all its atomic projects are intended to produce electricity, yet Washington remains imperturbable, telling anyone who wants to listen that the ruling ayatollahs are determined to divert the technology to produce atomic bomb aimed at destroying the Jewish State.
Hence, America’s efforts at the Vienna-based IAEA to have the case of Iran referred to the United Nations Security Council for imposing harsh economic and diplomatic sanctions against the Islamic Republic, unless Tehran effectively stops enriching uranium.
"This is a grave matter that will have serious repercussions when we begin our meeting on Thursday", another diplomat observed, adding that the 35-members Board could “seriously” consider sending Iran’s case to the Security Council for final decision.
Mr. Qolamreza Aqazadeh, the Head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation surprised the world when on 20 September 2004 he revealed in Vienna that his country had processed 37 tonnes of yellowcake uranium at facilities near the central city of Esfahan.
According to experts, this quantity of raw uranium could produce sufficient UF6 for up to five weapons, if enriched to weapons-grade purity.
In his report submitted to the Board of Directors, Dr. Mohammad Elbarade’i, the Egyptian Director of the IAEA observes that in the past two years, international nuclear inspectors have not detected that Tehran had diverted any of its declared nuclear materials to a weapons programme.
However, he also noted that in the past, Iran had a bad record of hiding some atomic projects and as a result, he did not rule out the possibility that other secret atomic activities existed.
With Ms. Condoleezza Rice sitting as the next Chief of US diplomacy, diplomats and analysts expect a stronger attitude from the new Bush Administration towards the Islamic Republic than with her predecessor, Mr. Collin Powell.
Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage assured on Friday that war with the Islamic Republic was not “an option”.
"We're talking about resolving this (Iranian nuclear) problem by diplomatic means. War is obviously not an option that we want to consider if we can help it", Mr. Armitage told the independent Al-Jazeera television network that is based in the Persian Gulf Emirate of Qatar.
Iran processed 37 tonnes of yellowcake uranium at facilities near the central city of Esfahan
Nevertheless, he also expressed scepticism of European diplomacy with Iran, but said "We are not trying to block them. That's fine. Let's see if it works".
On Wednesday and on his way to Chile, Mr. Powell had told newsmen that he was in possession of information that shows Iran is building weapons capable of delivering lethal warheads.
And about the same time, spokesmen for the outlawed Mojahedeen Khalq Organisation in Vienna and Paris charged that Iran was secretly making atomic bomb.
Though the MKO is on the US and many Western governments black list as “terrorist organisation”, but informed sources say members of the group in Iraq work closely with the American military to identify Iranian agents, trouble-makers and professional saboteurs.
Analysts told Iran Press Service that if the new accusations are accurate, it would certainly produce “terrible negative impact” on the EU’s “Troika”, namely Britain, France and Germany that hammered out an agreement with Iran on 15 November in Paris aimed at suspension of uranium enriching activities as from 22 November for the duration of talks between the two sides, against pledges by the Europeans to help Iran getting fuel for its nuclear reactor and signing a Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the 25-members European Union.
However, the Paris Accords are under heavy criticism in the conservatives-controlled Majles (parliament) and press, accusing Europe of “fooling” the Iranians in favour of the United States.
Hojjatoleslam Hasan Rohani, Iran’s number one negotiator on the controversial nuclear issue has warned that the 25 November meeting of the Board of Directors is a “test date” to see whether the Big 3 respects its engagements on Iran or not.
So far, the European Troika has resisted American pressures at the IAEA, observing that going to the Security Council means cutting all bridges with Tehran, a scenario much liked by some hard line ayatollahs.
“It is not surprising to see the MKO takes out of its sleeve new hidden nuclear projects of military character in Iran and at exactly the same time, not only the so-called revelations are largely reverberated by American press, but also American officials comes out with their own charges”, Iranian observers said, adding that “anyhow, a triumph of American diplomacy at the IAEA would also mean a triumph for Iranian hard liners and a requiem for the already very limited civil liberties. ENDS IRAN IAEA 201104