Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Military Space News .

Subscribe to our free daily newsletters

Diplomats Say Iran Laying Groundwork For Uranium Enrichment

Vienna (AFP) Dec 19, 2005
On the eve of crucial nuclear talks with Iran, diplomats say Tehran is already laying the groundwork for uranium enrichment, and may even be secretly making parts for sophisticated P2 centrifuges.

"The Iranian National Security Council is at this very time deliberating exactly when enrichment is to be resumed," a diplomat told AFP.

Enriched uranium can fuel nuclear power plants or be used in atom bombs, and the ability to produce it is considered a "breakout capacity" for making nuclear weapons.

The diplomat, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the information, says Iran has not stopped making parts for centrifuges, which, arranged in cascades, spin uranium gas to distill out uranium that is highly enriched with the U-235 isotope.

An Iranian diplomat said this assertion -- also voiced by Iranian opposition groups -- was "not true, not yet."

He said however that "Iran has the capacity to make P2 centrifuges."

A Western diplomat said that if Iran was "taking the incremental step" to make centrifuges it would be almost as significant as enrichment itself.

Iran and the European Union are to meet in Vienna on Wednesday to discuss re-starting formal negotiations on obtaining guarantees that Tehran will not make nuclear weapons.

The Europeans demand that Iran maintain a suspension of "all enrichment-related" activities including making centrifuges, according to an agreement reached in Paris in 2004.

The West sees uranium enrichment as a red flag issue that could prompt Iran's referral to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions, while the Islamic Republic insists on its right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to enrich uranium for what it says is a peaceful nuclear program to generate electricity.

Diplomats said that even if talks go well, they expect Iran to say that work with centrifuges short of actually enriching uranium does not violate the freeze.

"Iran serially produces and assembles centrifuge parts. Production has continued without interruption ever since this capability was acquired," the first diplomat said.

The diplomat said Iran was making centrifuges in military workshops which "do not come under IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards, and Iran has not declared all these parts."

Another diplomat from a member state of the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors said the agency, which has been investigating Iran for almost three years, does not "have a clue" what Iran is up to at its military workshops.

"Iran has the machine tools to enable them to churn out many P2 centrifuges a day, and the IAEA would have no idea," the diplomat said.

IAEA officials refused to comment.

The diplomat said there was "suspicion and concern" about "lots of activity at military workshops like Mashhad, Moborakeh and Nobonyad."

It is not clear how the EU would react if Iran resumed enrichment activities that stopped short of actually putting feedstock gas into centrifuges.

The EU has apparently accepted that Iran is converting uranium ore into the feedstock gas, even though the conversion work forced the breakdown of EU-Iran talks last August.

Research and development in enrichment "is indeed the key phrase, and conceivably Iran's strategy is to secure Europe's agreement to engage in R and D," the first diplomat said.

The diplomat said the Iranians hoped to inch their way towards acceptance of their enrichment activities, as they did with conversion, and might initially propose running a small, pilot centrifuge cascade in Natanz "without feeding gas into the centrifuges."

Non-proliferation expert David Albright, head of a think tank in Washington, said that running a cascade, even if only as a test using air, would help "see if vacuum seals hold and work out other major problems."

"You don't want Iran to start running cascades because the question then is, once they've started, can you get them to back down?" Albright said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Related Links
Search SpaceDaily
Subscribe To SpaceDaily Express

North Korea Vows To Bolster Nuclear Deterrent
Seoul (AFP) Dec 19, 2005
North Korea said Monday it would bolster its nuclear deterrent to counter a US bid to use the human rights issue as part of a drive to topple the communist regime.

  • Bush Authorizes Export Of Sensitive Equipment To China
  • Calls For Closer US Tabs On China Tech Rise
  • China Wants To Boost Trade, Military Ties With India
  • Walker's World: A 4x4 Coalition Emerging

  • North Korea Vows To Bolster Nuclear Deterrent
  • No Evidence Of Iran Nuclear Weapons Program Says Russian Spy Chief
  • Diplomats Say Iran Laying Groundwork For Uranium Enrichment
  • Policy Watch: Iran's Atomic Offer

  • UK Must Continue To Lead The Field In Missiles Says Reid
  • Taiwan Modifies Aircraft To Carry Anti Ship Missiles
  • India Successfully Tests Trishul Missile
  • India Successfully Tests Surface To Air Missile

  • Japan Expects To Pay One Third Of Joint Missile System With US
  • Orbital Launches OBV Missile Defense Interceptor Rocket
  • Northrop Grumman Plays Critical Role In Missile Defense Test
  • Boeing Leads Ground-based Midcourse Defense Flight Test

  • Thailand To Buy Russian Fighters: Report
  • USAF Declares Initial Operating Capability For F22A Raptor Jet Fighter
  • FAA, LockMart Complete National Rollout Of New Radar Data Communications Gateway
  • Anti-Missile Protection: Who Will Pay?

  • EDA Awards Patria And Instrumentointi Oy UAV Study Contract
  • ADF To Be Equipped With New Long Range Tactical UAV Fleet
  • Lockheed Martin To Build High Altitude Airship For MDA
  • X-47B J-UCAS Team Simulates Control Of Four Attack UAVs

  • Earliest Evidence For Large Scale Organized Warfare In The Mesopotamian World
  • Iraq Election Sees Relative Calm Enabling High Turnout Over Day
  • The Art Of Leaving Iraq
  • How Spin Loses Wars

  • Harris To Provide Activity Sensors And Systems Integration Services For USCENTCOM
  • Thales And DCN Announce French Naval Defence Alliance
  • Elbit Systems ORCWS 25-30 Unmanned Turret System Completes Field Trials
  • Raytheon Team Conducts Weapon System Wind Tunnel Test For The APKWS II Program

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2006 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA PortalReports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additionalcopyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement