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Reuters: Iran to start nuclear enrichment: diplomats


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Iran to start nuclear enrichment: diplomats

Fri Nov 25, 2005 9:58 AM ET13

By Louis Charbonneau and Mark Heinrich

VIENNA (Reuters) - Iran is pushing ahead with plans to enrich uranium in defiance of international pressure to give up sensitive nuclear technology to allay fears that it is seeking a nuclear bomb, diplomats and intelligence sources say.

Such plans could jeopardize a Russian attempt to head off a confrontation over Iran, through a compromise proposal under which Tehran would maintain a civilian nuclear program but transfer enrichment to Russia under a joint venture.

Enrichment is the most sensitive stage of the nuclear fuel cycle. It can be used to make fuel for bombs or power plants.

"I think they want to do it soon," a European diplomat told Reuters. "The million-dollar question is when."

Diplomats and intelligence officials, speaking on the sidelines of a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) this week, said Iran was preparing to start enrichment at its underground plant in Natanz.

The United States and other Western countries say Natanz anchors a covert nuclear weapons project and have threatened to refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions.

Iran says it aims only to generate nuclear energy and its right to a full nuclear cycle on its soil is non-negotiable, although it has also said it would study Russia's initiative.

A four-page confidential intelligence report given to Reuters cited a "senior Iranian Foreign Ministry source" as saying that on October 24 the secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council, Ali Larijani, called an emergency meeting of current and former members of Iran's nuclear negotiating team.

"One of the cardinal issues raised at the meeting was the timing for activating the centrifuge site at Natanz. The former and current negotiating teams weighed the various options for the timing of the Natanz operation," the report said.

The report, given to Reuters by a diplomat on condition of anonymity, did not say when work at Natanz would start.

Participants at the meeting discussed the technical measures needed to be taken before the plant went on line and what to do once the move had been announced, the report said. Continued ...

"They are not going to do this secretly," the diplomat said. "They will do it openly as they did with Isfahan."

Iran resumed conversion of uranium ore at its Isfahan plant in August, causing the collapse of talks with France, Germany and Britain, the so-called EU3, who had been trying to convince Tehran to give up potentially weapons-related nuclear work.

RUSSIAN COMPROMISE

Moscow has proposed Iran be allowed to continue to process uranium ore at Isfahan but ship the gas produced there to Russia for enrichment. The Natanz plant would remain mothballed.

The idea has won backing from the United States, and diplomats said talks could resume in December with the EU3 if Iran were ready to discuss the Russian proposal.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-nation board decided on Thursday not to refer Iran to the Security Council in order to give Russia time to broker a compromise.

But Western states on the board said Tehran had a long way to go to earn international trust about its intentions.

In Tehran, influential Iranian cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said the IAEA's decision was a step in the right direction but added: "There are some points in the communiqué that betray a vestige of harassment. We will never accept being bullied and it is not worth you (West) bullying us."

Western nations on the IAEA board would probably press for an immediate referral to the Council if Iran moved openly toward enriching uranium. But such a step would be resisted by Russia, China and most developing countries.

More than half a dozen diplomats at the IAEA interviewed by Reuters said the intelligence report about the Iranian meeting was credible.

The EU and Washington say that since Iran hid its nuclear program for many years, it needs to abandon all critical nuclear technology to prove it is not seeking atomic bombs.

But a senior diplomat close to the IAEA said that the demand that Iran give up enrichment "is on very shaky legal grounds".

"As far as we can tell, the Iranians are not willing to give up enrichment," he told Reuters. "It's a legal activity as long as it's been declared and we can't just go in there and tell Iran not to do that. We don't hold many cards."

"I don't see a Natanz start-up as inevitable, that we've reached the point of no return," said ex-U.N. weapons inspector David Albright, a nuclear expert. "At the same time, Iran will test the will of the international community."

A senior diplomat close to the IAEA said Iran appeared determined to start a small enrichment centrifuge cascade -- a group of machines that purify uranium by spinning at supersonic speeds -- and would probably begin with 168 centrifuges.

Such a small cascade would take many years to produce enough fuel for a bomb. But it would enable the Iranians to begin mastering the technology.

(additional reporting by Alireza Ronaghi in Tehran)

http://today.reuters.com/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=topNews&storyID=uri:2005-11-25T145822Z_01_SIB547720_RTRUKOC_0_US-NUCLEAR-IRAN1.xml&pageNumber=0&summit=

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They'll use the appropriate force needed to take care of the problem. They have survived all these years surrounded by enemies, so they're not stupid.

But they've also been overzealous at times (Six Days War's aftermath regarding UN 242).

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But they've also been overzealous at times (Six Days War's aftermath regarding UN 242).

Overzealous from your perspective. Have you ever had to live with countries surrounding you that want to end your existence? They will do whatever it takes to guarantee their survival.

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Overzealous from your perspective. Have you ever had to live with countries surrounding you that want to end your existence? They will do whatever it takes to guarantee their survival.

Have you? ;)

I don't think taking over unauthorized territories and then ignoring binding UN Resolutions was necessary to their survival.

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Why, so we could remove the person who hated Iran and replace then with an Iran friendly government?

The current Iraqi government is Iran friendly? Interesting, I must have missed that in the news.

chom will never, ever get it. The person we replaced who hated Iran also hated his own people and killed them by the thousands.

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:applause:

Chom???? Get it now????

And the justification is that the trip east is 50 miles shorter then the trip west? You can't be serious :doh:

I "get it" al right, it is the people who thought we invaded Iraq because they were instrumental in the war on terror who don't. The trip form Afghanistan is just as short as the one from Iraq, and it is $277Billion dollars cheaper

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A geography lesson.

Which is closer to the nuke plants, the country on the left (Iraq) or

THe country on the right (Afghanistan)

nuclear_facility_in_natanz-map_1.jpg

And like I stated befor Sarge, do you think the 50 miles shorter distance (to Tehran) justifies $277 billion?

This was used as a justification earlier in this thread, yet people neglect to mention that we ALREADY controlled a country next to Iran. My reply was both valid and correct, if the justification of Iraq was Iran. The savings of gas doesn't really justify $277 billion and 2000+ American lives now does it?

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And like I stated befor Sarge, do you think the 50 miles shorter distance (to Tehran) justifies $277 billion?

This was used as a justification earlier in this thread, yet people neglect to mention that we ALREADY controlled a country next to Iran. My reply was both valid and correct, if the justification of Iraq was Iran. The savings of gas doesn't really justify $277 billion and 2000+ American lives now does it?

OK, here's a better map. FRom Iraq it's about 200 clicks to Bushahar, about a thousand from Afghanistan.

IF your a pilot in a shot up F-15E that just dropped a bomb a their nuke plant, which way would you want to go to get home?

ir-map.gif

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