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Posted Friday, May 7, 2004

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TEHRAN, 7 May (IPS) Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani reiterated that the Islamic Republic would continue its sustained efforts to develop a full nuclear fuel cycle, despite pressures from the international nuclear watchdog on Tehran to come clear on its suspected programmes for developing atomic weapons.

According to Mr. Hashemi Rafsanjani, who is considered as the Iranian regime’s second man in charge after the leader, Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, Iran is trying to build a “complete atomic programme comprising all facets of the nuclear fuel cycle from uranium mining to processing and enrichment”.


The Americans, with their evil intentions, confront Iran because they do not want Islamic countries to have modern technology


He repeated immediately that the programme is entirely of civilian purpose, mainly to generate much needed electricity for the nation.

"Running a nuclear fuel cycle is our nation's right", the former president was quoted as saying by the official news agency IRNA.

"The Americans, with their evil intentions, confront Iran because they do not want Islamic countries to have modern technology", he added.

The statement comforted the position of the United States, Israel and some European nations fearing that some material obtained for nuclear power stations could be diverted for military use, including making nuclear bombs.

With the help of Russia, Iran is building its first nuclear power station, scheduled to be finished by next year.

Iran's nuclear facilities

The international community’s concern about the real aim of Iranian ayatollahs to build nuclear-powered electricity plants, instead of using natural gas, a source of cheap energy that Iran has the largest proven reserves after Russia increased after inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency discovered that contrary to earlier engagements, Tehran has put into service more advanced equipments to enrich uranium.

The discovery was made after Tehran had agreed on 21 October with foreign affairs ministers of Britain, France and Germany to sign the Additional Protocol to the Non Proliferation Treaty and suspend enriching uranium.

Later on, Tehran gave the IAEA what it said was a full declaration of its atomic operations. But inspectors were quick to find that it has deliberately omitted a number of research projects that could relate to a weapons program, such as advanced "P2" centrifuges that can make arms-grade uranium.

Addressing Thursday the French National Assembly, Mr. El-Barade’i warned Iran that the world “would not wait forever for the Islamic Republic to divulge the full extent and nature of its nuclear program”.


IAEA’s boss, the Egyptian Mohammad El-Barade’i called the P2 revelation a "setback" in Iran's cooperation with the agency, but used softer language in describing Iran's cooperation to French parliamentarians.

"There are still some hiccups in the cooperation, but overall I think we are moving in the right direction," he said.

A senior U.S. official who declined to be named told the British news agency Reuters in Vienna the Iranian statement was "extremely significant" and surprisingly brazen, given that the IAEA Board of Governors will meet next month to discuss the agency's progress in verifying that Tehran's atomic programme is entirely peaceful.

"Why they were foolish enough to say this just ahead of the board of governors meeting, I don't know", the official told Reuters by telephone.

To this question, Dr. Mehdi Mozzaffari, a professor of International Relations at the Copenhagen University says the Iranians think that an expanded European Union could be a at the same time a stronger unit to resist American pressures at international instance, like the IAEA, while making the process of decision taking –against Iran -- more difficult with 25 members instead of 15.

“However”, he told the Prague-based Radio Farda (Tomorrow), the Persian-language service of Radio Free Europe-Radio Liberty, “it is foolish to thinking that the Europeans would sacrifice their interests in taking the side of the Islamic Republic against the United States”.

In his view, the Europeans have been very tolerant with Tehran. “But as pointed out by the IAEA Chief, this has also reached its limits. “In another words, the European Union is telling the Islamic Republic that enough with visits, diners and futile talks, enough with hearing you repeating same thing. Now let’s go to serious matters, that are Iran’s controversial nuclear projects, its support for international terrorism and violation of human rights”.

In fact, addressing Thursday the French National Assembly, Mr. El-Barade’i warned Iran that the world “would not wait forever for the Islamic Republic to divulge the full extent and nature of its nuclear program”.

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director general Mohamed El Baradei

"People have to be a little bit patient, but Iran also has to understand that the world is not going to wait forever for them to come clean", Mr. El-Barade’i told a foreign relations committee of French parliament.

He said the enrichment process itself has a deterrent effect, because the ability to get or make material useable in arms is key for making an atom bomb.

For this reason he has suggested amending the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to make it illegal for countries to develop the full fuel cycle.

"We are running against the clock because we know that there's a lot of interest in nuclear and radioactive sources by extremist groups," ElBaradei said

Touring European capitals, Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Kamal Kharrazi repeated in Brussels and in Berlin on Tuesday that Iran was ready to answer all outstanding questions about its atomic plans before the June IAEA board session.

Iran wants its case removed from the IAEA's agenda after the June meeting, something Western diplomats say is unrealistic. "That's not going to happen", a U.S. official said. ENDS IRAN IAEA 7504


Iran's ex-president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is considered as the Iranian regime’s second man in charge, after the leader Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i


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