PARIS, 25 Feb. (IPS) Iran confirmed Friday that is was building secret tunnel to hide some of it secret nuclear installations.
“This could be true. But what is wrong with that? Since the Americans menaces to attack our nuclear sites, what shall we do? One has to save them, one way or another”, Iran’s chief negotiator on nuclear issues told the French daily “Le Monde”, when asked if it was true that Iran was building secret tunnels to hide its nuclear facilities.
The possibility that the Islamic Republic was making secret tunnels was first revealed some months ago by American nuclear experts, including Mr. David Albright, president and founder of the Institute for Science and International Security but this is the first time that a high ranking Iranian official closely associated wit the Iranian controversial nuclear issue confirms it.
According to Mr. Albright, one of the most sophisticated tunnels was constructed just north of the Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) at Esfahan
According to Mr. Albright, one of the most sophisticated tunnels was constructed just north of the Uranium Conversion Facility (UCF) at Esfahan.
“The tunnel is fairly long, and has two entrances, separated by less than half a kilometer. Construction on the tunnel began in September or October 2004, and Iran is working very hard to finish the project”, he reported recently.
Iran declared to the IAEA in the fall of 2004 that the tunnel facility is for storage and other activities that are part of the UCF.
But Mr. Albright says the facility appears too big to be only for storage. “It might be intended to house production facilities for some uranium conversion processes and it does not appear large enough to be a complete duplicate of the UCF.
The Vienna-based International nuclear watchdog has said that Iran should have declared the facility to it prior to the start of construction.
The IAEA visited the site in November 2004, at which time there was no equipment in the tunnel. The IAEA will continue to visit the facility.
However, Mr. Rohani explained indirectly that the reason Iran was hiding some of its nuclear facilities was because it has no confidence in the Westerners.
“Each time we declare that our nuclear activities are for peaceful use, the industrialized nations immediately would increase their pressures on Iran. As a result, to escape these pressures, we have omitted to report a certain number of things”, he told the influential daily, stopping short to specify what were the “things” Tehran failed to report, adding however that neither side has confidence on the other.
Currently on a tour of the European Union’s so-called Big 3 capitals, namely Britain, France and Germany over the Iranian atomic programs, Mr. Rohani regretted that the Trio had not been able to stand by its commitments to Iran over the entry of the Islamic Republic into the World Trade Organisation (WTO) or selling some Airbus planes.
“Generally speaking, I note that the Europeans are incapable of standing by their undertakings. Concerning the Airbus, we have an agreement that was not held. It is amazing: The Europeans are unable to kept their decision over a plane that is made 90 per cent of European pieces against 10 per cent of American origin. We had thought that the Europeans had a more free hands”, he pointed out.
He was referring to an agreement signed between Iran and the European trio on 15 November 2004 in Paris in which the Europeans accepted to help Tehran entering into the WTO and to get advanced nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes against a pledge by Tehran to suspend enriching uranium.
However, Washington remains suspicious and insists that the ruling ayatollahs are diverting the atomic technology for producing weapons, an accusation Iran vehemently denies, saying that all its nuclear projects are for civilian use, including producing electricity.
But while Berlin, London and Paris want the suspension be indefinite and possibly scrapped, Iran says it will be temporarily and all activities would be resumed in case the ongoing talks reaches a dead end.
To a question about American menaces, Mr. Rohani reiterated that in case the United States attacks Iran, it would be hit in turn.
“If they (Americans) menace us, we shall menace them. With what kind of arms would they attack our nuclear centres? With planes, missiles? We have same means. Believe me, if Israeli planes can reach Iran, our planes can also reach Israel as well”, he assured, adding that President Bush’s recent statements on Iran were “contradictory”.
In Brussels, where he met with all European leaders, including those of the Big 3, President Bush said “it is simply ridiculous" to assume that the United States has plans to attack Iran over its alleged nuclear weapons program, adding however, "Having said that, all options are on the table".
If the Americans menace us, we shall menace them with same kinnd of weapons adn if Israeli planes can reach Iran, our planes can also reach Israel as well.
Mr. Rohani dismissed the possibility of Iran’s nuclear case going to the Security Council of the United Nations, as pressed by the Americans, observing that not only Russia and China could veto sanctions against the Islamic Republic, but it could create a “North-South conflict, with all the developing nations opposing such type of action”.
“When told that the five official nuclear nations do not want other countries entering the atomic club, he bluntly said “What then about India, Pakistan or Israel, countries that also have nuclear weapons. Believe me, if a country wants to get the nuclear arm, it would not cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency”.
In Paris, the first step of his present tour, President Jacques Chirac told Mr. Rohani that Iran must give “objective guarantees” proving its nuclear projects are for civilian use and called on Tehran to “join the new situation that is developing in the Middle East”.
“Dialogue with Tehran is part of a general policy aimed at preventing proliferation of arms of mass destruction in the area, meaning that Iran must provide objective guarantees that its nuclear program has no military end”, the French president told his Iranian visitor.
That view was repeated in Berlin on Friday by German leaders, including Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his Foreign Affairs Minister Joschka Fischer, who described the ongoing talks “difficult, complex and complicated”.
Talking to reporters during a joint press conference held with the presence of Mr. Fischer, Mr. Rohani, who is also the Secretary of Iran’s Supreme council for National Security expressed satisfaction at the state of the negotiations, which, in his view, are advancing at a “very slow pace”. ENDS IRAN NUKE 25205