September 22, 2004
The New York Times

Iran Moves Toward Enriching Uranium

by Craig S. Smith

PARIS, Sept. 21 - Iran defied the United Nations' nuclear agency on Tuesday, announcing that it had begun converting tons of uranium into gas, a crucial step in making fuel for a nuclear reactor or a nuclear bomb. The International Atomic Energy Agency called Saturday for Iran to suspend all such activities. . . .

The nuclear agency's resolutions are not legally binding, and many countries, including Brazil and South Africa, may resist American pressure to sanction Iran for activities they support: the development of a complete nuclear fuel cycle, from mining uranium ore to reprocessing nuclear waste.

Mastering the cycle can make countries nearly independent in fulfilling their energy needs. But it brings them to within months of being able to build nuclear weapons. Iran, as a signer of the nonproliferation treaty, has the right to convert uranium into a gas and to concentrate the fissile 235 isotope of that gas with high-speed centrifuges, a process called enrichment. . . .

One concern is that Israel, an I.A.E.A. member that has not signed the nonproliferation treaty and has nuclear weapons, may decide to take the matter into its own hands if diplomacy fails to deter Iran.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported Tuesday that Israel was planning to buy 500 so-called bunker-busting bombs capable of penetrating six feet of concrete.

Those bombs could be used to destroy Iran's underground nuclear facilities. While analysts say such a pre-emptive strike is unlikely, in 1981 Israel bombed a nuclear reactor in Iraq to stop that country from developing nuclear weapons.

Iran argues that it is being unfairly penalized and that it has repeatedly proposed keeping the Middle East free of nuclear weapons.

The nuclear agency is trying to force Iran to accept limits on what it can do under the nonproliferation treaty without causing Iran to withdraw from the treaty.

Iran argues that discrimination among signatories is prohibited under the treaty and that accepting any limits would set a dangerous precedent for other treaties it has signed.

On Sunday Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Hassan Rowhani, warned in Tehran that Iran might drop out of the treaty if its case were sent to the Security Council. The treaty permits any country to withdraw on three months' notice. North Korea withdrew in 2001.

"We have made our choice: yes to peaceful nuclear technology and no to nuclear weapons," Iran's president, Mohammad Khatami, said . . .


Enver Masud, "U.S. Violating Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty," The Wisdom Fund, March 11, 2003

[Such a demand goes beyond what is covered in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This does not ban a country from making fuel but says that it has to be under inspection.--Paul Reynolds, "Iran faces 'nuclear ultimatum'," BBC News, September 8, 2004]

Guy Dinmore, "US debates military strikes on 'nuclear Iran'," Financial Times, September 15, 2004

Guy Dinmore, "US debates military strikes on 'nuclear Iran'," Financial Times, September 15, 2004

[An Iranian negotiator, Hoseyn Moussavian, noted that the resolution cited the legal right of all countries to develop a nuclear energy program.--Dafna Linzer, "Allies at IAEA Meeting Reject U.S. Stand on Iran," Washington Post, September 18, 2004]

Grant F. Smith, "An End to Ambiguity: US Counter-Proliferation from Tel Aviv to Tehran," CounterPunch, September 18, 2004

George Jahn, "UN Official: 40 Nations Can Make Nukes," Guardian, September 20, 2004

[Dr. Gordon Prather, a nuclear physicist who was the top scientist for the army in the Reagan years, tells me that Iran has not only been living up to the letter of its commitment to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but going beyond the commitment in order to satisfy international concerns.--Jude Wanniski, "Regime Change in Iran?,", September 22, 2004]

[The NPT has never banned uranium enrichment.--John Barry and Dan Ephron, "The U.S. weighs the price of a pre-emptive strike," Newsweek, September 27, 2004]

William Clark, "The Real Reasons Why Iran is the Next Target: The Emerging Euro-denominated International Oil Market," Centre for Research on Globalisation, October 27, 2004

"UN probe backs Iran nuclear claim," BBC News, November 15, 2004

Dafna Linzer, "Iran Agrees to Suspension of Its Nuclear Program," Washington Post, November 29, 2004

Gordon Prather, "Lying About Iran," CounterPunch, November 29, 2004

VIDEO: "Just what are Iran's nuclear intentions?," BBC Hardtalk, December 7, 2004

Gordon Prather, "Threatening Iran - despite the evidence," WorldNet Daily, December 19, 2004

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