Tehran (AFP) April 26, 2007
Iran has the capacity to fire tens of thousands of missiles at American targets and make "nowhere safe" for the United States, a top security official said on Wednesday. "Iran has long-range missiles that can make nowhere safe for America," said Mohammad Baqer Zolqader, deputy interior minister for security affairs and former deputy head of the Revolutionary Guards, according to the official IRNA news agency.
"Iran is able to fire tens of thousands of missiles per day at American targets on a daily basis and, with its long-range missiles, can threaten Israel which is acting as America's logistician," he added.
The United States has never ruled out the option of military action to secure Iranian compliance with UN Security Council resolutions on its nuclear programme.
Iran has repeatedly said it would strike back hard if it ever came under attack.
Zolqader said that America currently "is unashamedly confronting Iran and wants to take military action but due to the technical and strategic reasons cannot realise its bad intentions."
He said that the United States was now looking instead to "create instability and crisis inside the country and also stir up ethnic and religious differences."
Iran's missile arsenal includes its longer-range Shahab-3 missile, which has a range of up to 2,000 kilometres (1,200 miles) -- sufficient to threaten US bases in the Gulf as well as Israel.
It also has several types of shorter-range weaponry, including the Zelzal-2 (Quake) missiles which are said to have a range of 100 to 400 kilometres (60 to 250 miles).
earlier related report
"I think in some areas we are approaching a united view and that is to say the best approach is to have the issue settled through negotiation," Larijani told journalists after meeting in Ankara for a second day with Javier Solana.
The two men said they would meet again in two weeks but did not give an exact date or time.
Solana had said ahead of Thursday's meeting that he did not expect a "great breakthrough" in what is a first round of new talks to persuade Iran to heed UN calls to halt uranium enrichment.
The UN Security Council has imposed two sets of limited sanctions on Iran to get it to freeze its enrichment work, which includes a large scale plant underground at Natanz and a pilot research plant above ground.
"We cannot make miracles but we have tried to move a little bit the dossier forward," Solana said.
Tehran says its programme is to generate civilian nuclear power but the United States and its allies believe Tehran wants to develop nuclear weapons.
Neither negotiator gave details at a joint press conference after a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul or said whether a compromise was possible.
But diplomats told AFP that Solana had made a proposal to the Iranians based on a text, the so-called Swiss proposal, worked out in recent months between Swiss and Iranian diplomats.
The Swiss proposal foresees a 30-day moratorium period, during which Iran would not expand its nuclear programme and world powers would not seek further UN sanctions.
During this period, the two sides would work out a "double time-out" during which Iran would suspend uranium enrichment and the so-called P5 plus one -- the five permanent UN Security Council members plus Germany -- would suspend current UN sanctions against the Islamic Republic.
This plan is based on simultaneous suspensions first proposed by UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei.
The "time-out" would lead to talks between Iran and the six world powers on trade and other benefits for Iran.
The Swiss proposal does not spell out if the Iranians must suspend all enrichment work, or if they would be allowed to continue research-level production, something the US officially opposes.
US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in Oslo on Thursday that Iran must stop all enrichment in order to head off further UN sanctions and to begin talks on a benefits package.
But Larijani said in an interview with CNN Turkish television: "A full halt in enriching uranium is not on the agenda."
A diplomat who closely monitors the Iranian nuclear issue said Iran would never agree to stop all enrichment work "and so the issue becomes the pilot (research) project, whether the six will accept that the pilot project continues."
Another idea being floated is to let Iran spin centrifuges empty, without the uranium feedstock gas these machines need to make enriched uranium. But US officials have specifically rejected this as a compromise.
Solana said after the meeting here that there had not been "specific discussions" on suspending uranium enrichment.
Source: Agence France-Presse
Email This ArticleNorth Korea May Be About To Invite UN Atomic Inspectors
Seoul (AFP) April 26, 2007
South Korea's spy agency said Thursday that North Korea may be preparing to invite UN atomic inspectors to its key nuclear facility, as a prelude to shutting it down. Unusual activity has been spotted around the Yongbyon reactor, which produces the raw material for plutonium to make nuclear weapons, parliament's intelligence committee said in a statement.
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