TEHRAN, 21 Sep. (IPS) The Islamic Republic of Iran, in a visible defiance and disdain for the international community, announced Tuesday that on line with its nuclear policy, it has “successfully” converted tones of yellow cake into refined uranium gas.
The news was delivered to reporters in Vienna by Mr. Qlamreza Aqazadeh, the Head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organisation at almost the same time that in Tehran, Hojjatoleslam Mohammad Khatami was assuring the nation that the Islamic Republic would push on with its controversial nuclear program even if it risks international isolation.
President Khatami's warning and Aqazadeh’s announcement came exactly two days after the United Nation’s international nuclear watchdog called on Iran to stop all activities related to enriching uranium or it might be taken to the UN’s Security Council for economic sanctions.
Some of the amount of the 37 tons of yellow cake has been used and tests were successful.
Iran rejected the resolution approved Saturday 18 September by the 35 members of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), but reiterated that it would continue cooperation.
“The international community had to acknowledge our natural and legal right and open the path for understanding... so we can accept comprehensive international supervision and we can continue our path to acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes", the powerless President said, warning that
"otherwise we will continue on this path even if the result is the cutting off of international supervision".
Addressing a parade marking the beginning of "Sacred Defence Week" that marks the anniversary of the outbreak of war with Iraq in 1980, Mr. Khatami said "we have made our choice and it is now the turn of others to chose", a reference to the IAEA, which gave Iran until November to come clean on its nuclear intentions and ratify the Additional Protocol to the Non Proliferation Treaty.
A clause in the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) permits any country to withdraw on three months' notice. North Korea withdrew in 2001, allowing it to proceed with the separation of plutonium from spent uranium and presumably the development of a nuclear bomb.
However Mr. Khatami assured that Iran was not after making nuclear weapons. "If we are under supervision or not, we will in no way try to acquire nuclear weapons because it is against our religion and culture. We are opposed to nuclear weapons", he said.
But while analysts said the President’s warnings might be for domestic consumptions, it was Aqazadeh’s declaration that sent alarms to Washington, Tel Aviv, the European Union and the IAEA.
"Some of the amount of the 37 tons has been used," Mr. Aqazadeh told journalists as he was entering the annual meeting of the IAEA’s members, referring to a quantity of yellowcake, or uranium oxide, which Iran had earlier indicated it planned to convert into gas
"The tests have been successful but these test have to be continued using the rest of the material", he said, adding that though Iran did not accept the last resolution of the Agency’s directors, yet it would continue to be fully opened to inspections.
Under the NPT regulations, Iran has the right to enjoy nuclear technologies for peaceful and civilian uses, like producing electricity, a right recognised by the IAEA’s latest resolution
No country with a project of producing 7.000 megawatts of electricity from nuclear energy can possibly depend on foreign providers for fuelling the stations”.
But the United States and Israel alleges that Iran’s ruling ayatollah’s main aim is to divert the technology for building an atomic arsenal to be used against the Jewish State.
Brushing aside the allegations, a senior Iranian official associated closely to the country’s nuclear programmes told Iran Press Service that Iran was ready to accept any safeguards imposed by the United Nations agency to ensure its enrichment activities do not go beyond the 3.5 percent concentration of the uranium-235 isotope needed for its power plant
“The IAEA has this system and we welcome that it is installed in Iran and kept under its supervision”, the official said, adding, “No country with a project of producing 7.000 megawatts of electricity from nuclear energy can possibly depend on foreign providers for fuelling the stations”.
To satisfy its electricity needs, Iran plans the construction of 6 more nuclear-powered electric stations in addition of the one that it is building in the Persian Gulf port of Booshehr with assistance from Russia.
It was against that background that the Israeli newspaper Ha’arretz revealed Tuesday that the United States would sell Israel 5,000 smart bombs for $319 million.
Known by the military designations GBU-27 or GBU-28, "bunker busters" are guided by lasers or satellites and can penetrate up to 10 metres (30 feet) of earth and concrete. Israel may already have some of the bombs for its U.S.-supplied F-15 fighter jets.
The Pentagon told Congress that the bombs are meant to maintain Israel's qualitative advantage, and advance U.S. strategic and tactical interests.
Though Ha’aretz said Israel has some similar weapons, which it has used against Palestinians extremists in Gaza, but the British news agency Reuters quoted un-named official sources saying that the bombs could be used to destroy Iran’s nuclear facilities.
"This is not the sort of ordnance needed for the Palestinian front. Bunker busters could serve Israel against Iran or possibly Syria", Reuters quoted the official.
A banner at the military parade stating "Israel must be wiped off the map" was draped on the side of a Shahab-2 missile, while a banner saying "We will crush America under our feet" was on the side of a trailer carrying the latest Shahab-3 missile, correspondents reported from the Iranian Capital.
The missile, whose name means "meteor" or "shooting star" in Farsi, is thought to be capable of carrying a one-tonne warhead at least 1,300 kilometers (800 miles), well within range of Israel.
"The Shahab-3 missiles, with different ranges, enables us to destroy the most distant targets", said an official commentary accompanying the parade, which was carried live on state television. ENDS IRAN NUCLEAR 21904