Iran Enriched Uranium!

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Iran Enriched Uranium!

Postby IPC » Tue Apr 11, 2006 8:37 pm

Iran Enriched Uranium!

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060411/wl_ ... _iran_dc_5

The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization confirmed on Tuesday that Iran had enriched uranium to a level used in nuclear power plants.

"I am proud to announce that we have started enriching uranium to the 3.5 percent level," Gholamreza Aghazadeh said in a televised address, adding that the pilot enrichment plant in Natanz, south of Tehran, had started working on Monday.

Image
The chief of Iran's Astan Qods Razavi carries a sample of enriched uranium after Iran said on Tuesday it had produced low-grade enriched uranium, in Mashad, April 11, 2006. (Stringer/Reuters)

White House spokesman Scott McClellan said Iran was "moving in the wrong direction" with its nuclear program and if it persisted, the United States would discuss possible next steps with the U.N. Security Council.

"If the regime continues to move in the direction that it is currently, then we will be talking about the way forward with the other members of the Security Council and Germany about how to address this going forward," McClellan said on board Air Force One en route to Missouri.

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President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad announces Iran's successful production of enriched uranium during a ceremony in Mashad, Iran, April 11, 2006. The United States said on Tuesday it could not confirm Iran's claim it had enriched uranium to a level used in nuclear power plants. (Stringer/Reuters)

Influential former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani said earlier on Tuesday that Iran was producing enriched uranium from a cascade of 164 centrifuges.

Rafsanjani's comments to Kuwait's KUNA news agency came ahead of a planned announcement by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad about progress in Iran's nuclear program.

Iran's announcement is a serious setback to U.N. Security Council efforts to have Tehran halt enrichment work. It could escalate a confrontation with Western powers leading to consideration of sanctions against the Islamic Republic.

The West fears Iran is using its power station program as a smokescreen to build atomic bombs, a charge Tehran denies.

"We operated the first unit which comprises of 164 centrifuges, gas was injected, and we got the industrial output," Rafsanjani said in an interview with KUNA.

"There needs to be an expansion of operations if we are to have a complete industrial unit; tens of units are required to set up a uranium enrichment plant," said Rafsanjani, who was Ahmadinejad's rival in last year's presidential race.

Ahmadinejad had said he would announce "good news" on atomic progress on Tuesday, but had not given details.

Rafsanjani's announcement may have been aimed at trumping his rival and taking credit for progress in the nuclear program, which has broad support in Iran, analysts said.

"They are competing with each other for who will be the first person," political analyst Saeed Laylaz said.

The U.N. Security Council has demanded Iran shelve enrichment activity and on March 29 asked the International 30 Atomic Energy Agency, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to report on its compliance in 30 days.

An IAEA spokesman declined comment on Iran's announcement and said no official agency reaction was likely for the time being.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei is expected to visit Iran later this week to seek full Iranian cooperation with the Council and IAEA inquiries. The announcement of advances in enrichment work by Iran will cast an embarrassing cloud over ElBaradei's trip.

Iran was referred by the IAEA to the Council in February for failing to convince much of the international community that its nuclear work aims to generate only electricity, not weaponry, and will not pose a threat to international peace and security.

Reflecting anxiety about the nuclear dispute, investors shifted into the safe-haven Swiss franc after Rafsanjani made his comments, traders said. The nuclear dispute has also been a factor helping to push up oil prices to record levels.

'LOGICAL EXTENT OF PROGRESS'

Two weeks ago IAEA diplomats said Iran had set up a "cascade" of 164 centrifuges at its Natanz plant but no uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6), the feedstock for enriched fuel, had yet been fed into them. It had tested 20 centrifuges, they added.

Iranian nuclear officials have previously said purifying uranium to 3.5 percent -- the level needed for fuel for power stations -- would require the operation of 164 centrifuges, which spin it at supersonic speeds to heighten the concentration of its most radioactive isotope, U-235.

The level of enrichment needed to trigger the nuclear chain reaction that detonates bombs is far higher, around 90 percent. But even word that low-level enrichment is under way will be unacceptable to Western powers, diplomats say.

Iran has only one nuclear power plant under construction but plans to build more and says it wants to make its own fuel.

"It may be that they have begun feeding the 164. That might be the logical extent of progress since late March. It wouldn't be surprising," a European Union diplomat accredited to the IAEA said when asked about Ahmadinejad's teaser. "164 centrifuges is still well short of producing enriched uranium in a significant quantity over a sustained period. But the more they do it, the more they learn the technology. So any form of enrichment is a red line for us," the diplomat said.

A special team of IAEA inspectors went to Iran on Friday to gather fresh information at nuclear sites for ElBaradei's pending report to the Security Council. IAEA officials have declined to divulge any findings so far.

It would take Iran years to yield enough highly enriched uranium for one bomb with such a small cascade. But Iran has told the IAEA it will start installing 3,000 centrifuges later this year, enough to produce material for a warhead in a year.

Washington has said repeatedly it wants to resolve the nuclear stand-off by diplomatic means. But analysts say advances in uranium enrichment technology by Iran may be the tripwire for the United States or Israel to take military action. President George W. Bush on Monday dismissed reports of plans for military strikes on Iran as "wild speculation."
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Postby IPC » Tue Apr 11, 2006 8:39 pm

Iran Insists Enrichment Goal Is Peaceful

TEHRAN, Iran - Iran
By ALI AKBAR DAREINI, Associated Press Writer
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060412/ap_ ... nuclear_26

Iran's hard-line president said Tuesday that the country "has joined the club of nuclear countries" by successfully enriching uranium for the first time — a key process in what Iran maintains is a peaceful energy program.

The announcement from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was certain to heighten international tensions surrounding Iran's nuclear program. The U.N. Security Council has demanded that Iran stop all enrichment by April 28 because of suspicions the program is designed to make nuclear weapons.

Ahmadinejad warned the West that trying to force it to abandon uranium enrichment would "cause an everlasting hatred in the hearts of Iranians."

Image
Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh, Iran's nuclear chief, right, examines uranium hexaflouride, or UF6 as he and others open a suitcase in Mashhad, Iran's holiest city, Tuesday, April, 11, 2006. Iran has successfully enriched uranium for the first time, a landmark in its quest to develop nuclear fuel, hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday, although he insisted his country does not aim to develop atomic weapons. (AP Photo/Mehr News Agency)

The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, was heading to Iran on Wednesday for talks aimed at resolving the standoff. The timing of the announcement suggested Iran wanted to present him with a fait accompli and argue that it cannot be expected to entirely give up a program showing progress.

Former president Hashemi Rafsanjani, a powerful member of Iran's ruling clerical regime, said the breakthrough means ElBaradei "faces new circumstances."

The White House, which is pressing for U.N. sanctions against Iran, said the enrichment claims "show that Iran is moving in the wrong direction."

"Defiant statements and actions only further isolate the regime from the rest of the world," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

Britain's Foreign Office issued a statement reiterating the U.N. call for a halt to enrichment work and warned that "if Iran does not comply, the Security Council will revisit the issue."

The Iranian enrichment announcement "is not particularly helpful," it said.

Image
Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaks in Mashhad, Iran's holiest city Tuesday, April 11, 2006. Iran has successfully enriched uranium for the first time, a landmark in its quest to develop nuclear fuel, Ahmadinejad said Tuesday, insisting his country does not aim to develop nuclear weapons. (AP Photo/Mehr News Agency)

Uranium enrichment can produce either fuel for a nuclear energy reactor — as Iran says it seeks — or the material needed for an atomic warhead.

Tuesday's announcement does not mean Iran is immediately capable of doing either. So far it has succeeded only in getting a series of 164 centrifuges to work in the enrichment process. Thousands of centrifuges are needed for a workable program.

But successfully carrying out the highly complicated and delicate process even on a small scale would be a breakthrough, and Iran's nuclear chief said the program would be expanded to 3,000 centrifuges by the end of the year.

Ahmadinejad announced it at a nationally televised ceremony clearly aimed at drumming up popular Iranian support for the nuclear program. He addressed an audience that included top military commanders and clerics in an ornate hall in one of Iran's holiest cities, Mashhad. Before he spoke, screens on the stage showed footage of nuclear facilities and scientists at work.

"At this historic moment, with the blessings of God Almighty and the efforts made by our scientists, I declare here that the laboratory-scale nuclear fuel cycle has been completed and young scientists produced enriched uranium needed to the degree for nuclear power plants Sunday," Ahmadinejad said.

"I formally declare that Iran has joined the club of nuclear countries," he said. The crowd broke into cheers of "Allahu akbar," or "God is great."

As part of the ceremony, costumed dancers performed on the stage, holding aloft vials of raw uranium and also chanting "Allahu akbar."

Ahmadinejad said the West "has to respect Iran's right for nuclear energy."

He said Iran wanted to operate its nuclear program under supervision by the International Atomic Energy Agency and within its rights and the regulations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. According to the IAEA, a total of 31 countries have nuclear power plants either in operation or under construction.

In Vienna, officials of the IAEA, whose inspectors are now in Iran, declined to comment on Ahmadinejad's announcement.

But a diplomat familiar with Tehran's enrichment program said it appeared to be accurate. He demanded anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss information restricted to the agency.

Speaking before the president, Iran's nuclear chief — Vice President Gholamreza Aghazadeh — told the audience that Iran has produced 110 tons of uranium gas, the feedstock that is pumped into centrifuges for enrichment.

The amount is nearly twice the 60 tons that Iran said last year that it had produced — an amount that former U.N. nuclear inspector David Albright said would be enough to produce up to 20 nuclear bombs if Iran developed the capacity.

Aghazadeh also said a heavy water nuclear reactor, under construction near Arak in central Iran, will be completed by early 2009. The U.S. fears that the spent fuel from a heavy-water reactor can be reprocessed to extract plutonium for use in a bomb.

The IAEA is due to report to the U.N. Security Council on April 28 whether Iran has met its demand for a full halt to uranium enrichment. If Tehran fails to comply, the U.S. and Europe are pressing for sanctions against Iran, a step Russia and China have opposed.

Under the non-proliferation pact, nations without nuclear weapons pledge not to pursue them in exchange for a commitment by five nuclear-weapons states — the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China — to negotiate nuclear disarmament. The treaty guarantees countries that renounce nuclear weapons access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

North Korea withdrew from the treaty in 2003. Three countries have refused to join — India and Pakistan, which conducted rival nuclear tests in 1998, and Israel, which is widely believed to possess weapons.
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Postby IPC » Tue Apr 11, 2006 8:41 pm

Iran Enriched Uranium!

Image
Iran's hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaks in Mashhad, Iran's holiest city Tuesday, April 11, 2006. Iran has successfully enriched uranium for the first time, a landmark in its quest to develop nuclear fuel, Ahmadinejad said Tuesday, insisting his country does not aim to develop nuclear weapons.(AP Photo/Mehr News Agency)

Image
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivers a speech in Fariman near the holy city of Mashhad, 950 kms northeast of Tehran. Iran announced it had successfully enriched uranium to make nuclear fuel, a dramatic breakthrough in its disputed atomic drive that defies a UN Security Council demand for the work to be halted.(AFP/IRNA)

Image
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad gives a speech during a ceremony at the holy city of Mashhad, 950 kms northeast of Tehran. Iran announced had successfully enriched uranium to make nuclear fuel, a major breakthrough in its disputed atomic drive that defies a UN Security Council demand for the work to stop.(AFP/IRNA)

Image
Iranian artists perform as they hold up samples of enriched uranium after Iran said on Tuesday it had produced low-grade enriched uranium, in Mashad, April 11, 2006. (Stringer/Reuters)

Image
An Iranian child holds a picture of the Islamic republic's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as Ahmadinejad addressed the families of soldiers killed during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war in the holy city of Mashhad, 950 kms northeast of Tehran. Iran announced it had successfully enriched uranium to make nuclear fuel.(AFP/IRNA)
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