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By Safa Haeri
Posted Sunday, March 7, 2004

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"We want Iran to be recognized as a member of the nuclear club, that means Iran be recognized as a country having the nuclear fuel cycle, and enriching uranium. This is very difficult for the world to accept", Hojjatoleslam Hasan Rohani, the Secretary of the Supreme Council for National Security (SCNS) announced.


TEHERAN, 7 Mar. (IPS) Iran on Sunday surprised the international community and above all the United Nations nuclear watchdog that the world must recognised the country as a nuclear power and be admitted into the growing atomic club.

"We want Iran to be recognized as a member of the nuclear club, that means Iran be recognized as a country having the nuclear fuel cycle, and enriching uranium. This is very difficult for the world to accept", Hojjatoleslam Hasan Rohani, the Secretary of the Supreme Council for National Security (SCNS) announced ahead of an important meeting on Monday of the Agency’s Board of Governors.

The "request" for membership at the atomic club by a man who handles the complicated, complex, controversial and sensitive issue of Iranian nuclear activities and conducts the difficult and tortuous talks with the IAEA means that Iran has the capacity of making nuclear weapons, a potential that most American and European experts and intelligence services puts at between 3 to five years.

"We have two goals ahead of us that we must achieve. One is closing Iran's nuclear dossier with the IAEA and bringing the Board of Governors to take it out of their agenda and the other is to have Iran recognized globally as a nuclear country, Mr. Rohani, who conducts Iran’s negotiations with the IAEA, told the inaugural session of the Assembly of Experts, a body made of 82 senior religious that has the power to elect or dismiss the leader of the regime.

But whatever the reasons that motivated Tehran’s move, diplomats and experts said Mr. Rohani’s declaration not only would not appease international concerns about Iranian determination at setting up a nuclear arsenal, but also convince the United States and the European Union to increase pressures on the Islamic Republic to stop all its atomic projects or face drastic international sanctions.

In a report to be published at the end of this month, Mr. David Albraight, an American nuclear scientist and researcher said Iran has the capacity of producing enough enriched uranium to build some 30 nuclear warhead a year.

As Mr Rohani was briefing the Experts on Iran-IAEA thorny relations, a hard line newspaper warned the Agency to be "more realistic in its dealings with Iran or the whole game would be jeopardised" and an unidentified Iranian diplomat in Vienna threatened that Iran would resume uranium enrichment and revise its agreement to cooperate with the international nuclear watchdog if the dispute is not resolved in line with last October’s agreement.

He was referring to the accord signed on 21 October in Tehran between Mr. Rohani with the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany under which the Islamic Republic agreed to sign the Additional Protocol to the Non Proliferation Treaty and suspend enriching uranium in return for getting access to advanced nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes, like the construction of nuclear-powered electrical plants.

"Iran will not wait forever to restore its legitimate national right to pursue peaceful nuclear activities would not accept the IAEA continue its double-standard policies toward Iran", the diplomat added, quoted by "Mehr", a news agency close to the ruling conservatives.

At the same time, and in an obvious coordinated campaign aimed at intimidating the IAEA’s Board of Directors, Mr. Mohsen Reza’i, the Secretary of the powerful Expediency Council that is chaired by the former president Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said cooperation with IAEA would become more difficult if IAEA decides to limit Iran’s peaceful and civilian nuclear activities.

In a lengthy and detailed report to the Assembly of Experts, Mr. Rohani explained why he had to bow to IAEA’s demand for joining the Additional Protocol, revealing that in case Iran would not obey, "it would face the same fate as Iraq", meaning a possible military invasion of the country.

"The pressures applied on Iran was so great that most of the world’s leading industrial nations conditioned their trade with us to the signing of the Protocol, as seen in the Azadegan oilfields that the Japanese refused to develop", the SCNS influential Secretary told a bewildered Assembly.

However, he expressed the hope that because of Iran’s "clear-cut and full" cooperation with the IAEA, the Board would not take the case to the United Nations Security Council for economic sanctions. "Even the Americans have indicated that they would not insist on the matter", he added.

The IAEA governing board is to meet on Monday to discuss the latest developments in Iran’s nuclear program, including the technologies and equipments for enriching uranium sold to Iran by Dr. Abdol Qadir Khan, the father of Pakistan’s atomic bomb.

According to a report by Malaysian police based on the confession of a wealthy Sri Lankan who serves as a middleman, Mr. Khan sold Iran a number of centrifuges for a price of 3 million US Dollars.

But Teheran has constantly denied the accusations, saying they obtained the second hand materials on the black market with no information about its origin.

IAEA inspectors who found traces of aluminium enriched with new equipments known as P-2 say Iran concealed these equipments from them, but the radical daily "Keyhan" accused Sunday the Agency of "gross lies and total dishonesty", reiterating that Iran had informed all its activities and installations to the inspectors.

In a sharp-tongued comment, Mr. Hoseyn Shari’atmadari, a high-ranking intelligence officer appointed by Mr. Khameneh’i as Editor, said although the 21 Agreement with the foreign affairs ministers of Europe’s big 3 was a choice between bad and worse, but the IAEA, under pressures of the United States and Zionist circles, has gone far beyond honesty in dealing with the Islamic Republic.

Quoting Ayatollah Khameneh’I as having warned the IAEA and the leading powers "not to try to challenge Islamic Iran’s right to possess nuclear technology", Mr. Shari’atmadari called on the authorities to be ready for "the big show down" and urged lawmakers elected to the next Iranian parliament not to approve the Protocol if IAEA fails to accommodate Iran.

The Additional Protocol that allow IAEA inspectors carrying out "instant" and unrestricted inspections of all Iranian nuclear installations and projects, has not yet been approved by the outgoing Majles.

According to Mehr, continuing accusations against Iran, despite its cooperation with IAEA inspectors, has irked the Iranian delegation, which has accused the United Nations nuclear agency of dealing with Iran in an "illogical manner".

"There is nothing permanent. We signed the additional protocol ... and when to resume is in the hands of our system (the ruling Islamic establishment)", Mr. Rohani said at the Assembly, reiterating that Iran’s atomic projects, like the electric plant that is under construction at the Persian gulf port of Booshehr with assistance from Russia are for civilian purposes.

But Washington insists that Iranian ruling ayatollahs want to use atomic installations like Booshehr for advancing military aims.

Mr. ElBaradei recently praised Iran on its cooperation with his organisation but at the same time regretted that it had withheld information on the advanced "P2" enrichment centrifuge, which can produce arms-grade uranium at twice the speed of the "P1" centrifuge. ENDS IRAN NUCLEAR 7304



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