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Iran Has The Ability To Develop A Nuclear Weapon

US officials have said that Iran was at least five years away from developing a nuclear bomb, but Robert Joseph, undersecretary of state for arms control, said the Islamic Republic had the money and technical know-how to do so -- and was also getting outside help.
by Staff Writers
Washington DC (AFP) Feb 06, 2006
Iran has the capability to develop nuclear arms and the means to deliver them, a senior US official said Monday, adding the world must use "whatever measures are necessary" to dissuade Tehran.

Robert Joseph, undersecretary of state for arms control, took a tough line with the Iranians two days after the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) voted to report Tehran to the UN Security Council for its nuclear work.

US officials have said that Iran was at least five years away from developing a nuclear bomb, but Joseph said the Islamic Republic had the money and technical know-how to do so -- and was also getting outside help.

"I would say that Iran does have the capability to develop nuclear weapons and the delivery means for those weapons," Joseph told a news conference at the Foreign Press Center here.

Asked about the next steps with Iran, Joseph said, "No options are off the table. We cannot tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran, but we are giving every chance for diplomacy to work and again we've entered the next level of diplomacy.

"What is necessary to stop Iran is a firm indication that the international community not only will speak to this issue but will take whatever measures are necessary to convince Iran that it is in its interest to forego a nuclear weapons capability."

Source: Agence France-Presse

related report

Iran Boosts Air Defences With Locally Produced Missile
Tehran, Iran (AFP) Feb 06, 2006 Iran's defence minister launched the domestic mass production of a new shoulder-fired air defence missile Sunday, a development presented as a major boost for the Islamic republic's armed forces.

The defence ministry said in a statement faxed to AFP that the Misagh 2 missile was "capable of tracking and destroying aerial targets that fly at low altitudes and in the blind spot of radar systems".

The ministry said the "advanced missile" could also be used for "electronic warfare".

"This missile gives our forces, army and Revolutionary Guards a drastic advantage, agility and flexibility in defending our air defences," Defence Minister Mostafa Mohammad Najjar said in the statement.

"The space industry of the defence ministry currently mass-produces surface to air, surface to surface and air to surface missiles which have strong capbilities," he added.

In recent months Israel has been dangling the threat of pre-emptive action to stop Iran's disputed nuclear programme -- seen as a mask for weapons development.

Israel managed to halt Iraq's nuclear programme in 1981 when it carried out an air strike on the French-built Osirak reactor.

The United States has also refused to rule out military action against Iran and, over the past year, Iranian officials have been complaining of air space violations by US drones -- presumably spying on Iran's nuclear sites and military facilities.

But in an interview with AFP in December, Iran's top national security official Ali Larijani said the Islamic republic's air defences "do not have many weaknesses".

Iran is already believed to possess older Soviet-made SA-7 shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, as well as several other high altitude SAM systems.

The country is also thought to have laid its hands on US Stinger missiles supplied to Afghan anti-Soviet fighters during the 1980s, and defence analysts say Iran may have worked out how to produce its own equivalent.

Such devices are useful in forcing aircraft to fly at higher altitudes -- and therefore in the view of radar systems and prone to interception or attack by ground-based systems.

In December, Russia also agreed to sell Iran 29 TOR M1 mobile surface-to-air missile defence systems in a deal criticised by the United States.

Source: Agence France-Presse

Related Links
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UN Referral Would Fail To Halt Iran Nuclear Activities
Munich, Germany (AFP) Feb 04, 2006
Iran would be unable to halt its nuclear activities if the country was referred to the UN Security Council over its atomic programme, a senior Iranian official said here Saturday.







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