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Iran To Launch Production Of Industrial Nuclear Fuel

File image of nuclear enrichment centrifuges

Israeli Minister Urges UN Chief To Revoke Iran Membership
Jerusalem (AFP) Jan 03 - Israeli Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday called on UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to revoke Iran's membership over its nuclear programme and calls for the Jewish state's destruction. "I call on you to act now, before it is too late. Revoke Iran's membership in the United Nations," Lieberman said in a letter to the new UN chief obtained by AFP. "Pressure the Security Council to impose the harshest and most extensive set of sanctions the world has ever seen, and halt Iran's progress towards nuclear weapons." Israel, believed to be the sole nuclear power in the Middle East, claims, together with the United States, that Iran's nuclear programme is aimed at obtaining an atomic bomb despite Tehran's denials.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's repeated calls to wipe Israel "off the map" have been a source for deep concern in Israel, which has vowed to do everything in its power to prevent the development of an Iranian nuclear bomb. "The State of Israel can, and will, stand alone against Iran, but we should not be asked to. If (Iran is) allowed to achieve nuclear weapons, the entire free world will pay a heavy price -- Israel will be the first, and will pay the heaviest price," Lieberman wrote.

Ban does not have the power to expel a member. That can only be done by the General Assembly, on the recommendation of the Security Council, after what is deemed as persistent violations of the principles of the UN Charter. Separately, a member may be suspended following the same procedure if it is under preventive or enforcement action mandated by the Security Council

Iran top nuclear negotiator to visit China
Tehran (AFP) Jan 03 - Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani will arrive in China on Thursday for a two-day visit carrying a message from President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the state news agency IRNA reported. Larijani will deliver the message in person to Chinese President Hu Jintao and also meet other top officials, including Luo Gan of the standing committee of the Communist Party's political bureau. No further details were dislosed.

China supports Iran's right to a nuclear programme but as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council voted for a resolution that imposed sanctions targeting Iran's nuclear industry and ballistic missile programme. Both Russia and China -- which have strong economic interests in Iran -- worked to water down drafts of the Security Council resolution and Beijing has since called for more talks on the nuclear issue. Photo courtesy AFP.

by Staff Writers
Tehran (AFP) Jan 03, 2007
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Wednesday vowed Iran will step up its atomic programme despite UN sanctions, predicting Tehran would soon "push the button" to produce nuclear fuel for industrial uses. "Iran has the fuel cycle and very soon we will push the button on nuclear fuel production for industrial uses," said Ahmadinejad in a speech in Ghotvand, in western Khuzestan province, according to the IRNA news agency.

"The Iranian people have taken their decision and will in no way pay attention to empty cries of the materialists and the bullying of the decadent powers."

Iran has already announced it has enriched uranium to levels of around five percent. Producing nuclear fuel that could theoretically be used in a power station would be another important step in mastering the nuclear fuel cycle.

Ahmadinejad's latest comments come in defiance of a UN Security Council resolution at the end of last year which imposed sanctions against Tehran for its failure to suspend uranium enrichment.

Western powers want Iran to suspend enrichment, a process that they fear could be used to make nuclear weapons. Iran insists its atomic programme is entirely peaceful and it has every right to the full nuclear fuel cycle.

Iranian officials have already predicted Iran would be able to make a major announcement on its nuclear programme during the 28th anniversary celebrations of the Islamic revolution in February.

"The Iranian people will not retreat one iota from their rights and the revolutionary celebration will be a celebration that proves Iran's nuclear rights," Ahmadinejad said.

"The Iranian people are insisting on their position and want nothing more than their rights. The bullying powers should know that whatever fuss they make they have to surrender to the Iranian people's will."

He did not go into details on the scale of the fuel production, but producing nuclear fuel for an atomic power station would involve the continuous running of centrifuges to produce enriched uranium of high quality and quantity.

Iran has also said it wants to install 3,000 uranium enriching centrifuges at its enrichment plant in Natanz, central Iran, by March but it is unclear which stage these plans have reached.

In October, Iran only had two cascades of 164 centrifuges in Natanz declared to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) so the plan to install 3,000 centrifuges would take its enrichment to a new level.

Russia is building Iran's first nuclear power station in the southern city of Bushehr, a much delayed project which is due to be opened in September 2007. Moscow plans on delivering fuel for the plant in March.

However, Iran has also insisted it has every right to produce its own nuclear fuel on Iranian soil in defiance of international calls for the work to be carried outside the Islamic republic.

US to launch campaign to isolate Iran financially: report
Washington (AFP) Jan 02 - The United States is ready to launch a new diplomatic initiative with several European countries to try to isolate Iran financially, The New York Times reported Tuesday.

Western powers want Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, a process that they fear could be used to make nuclear weapons. Iran insists its atomic programme is entirely peaceful and it has every right to the nuclear fuel cycle.

The UN Security Council last month imposed sanctions and asked International Atomic Energy Agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei to report within 60 days on whether Iran has suspended uranium enrichment and cooperated fully with an ongoing IAEA investigation.

"The plan is to use the language of the (UN) resolution to help persuade foreign governments and financial institutions to cut ties with Iranian businesses, individuals in its nuclear and missile programs and, by extension, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps," the report said, quoting Stuart Levey, under secretary of the treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence.

The Times said the US initiative is backed by Britain and France but that Germany was believed to have concerns.

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Crisis In Seoul As North Korean Process Bogs Down
Seoul (UPI) Jan. 3, 2007
South Korea is under a policy dispute over how to deal with North Korea following controversial remarks by Seoul's pointman on Pyongyang who hinted at massive economic aid to the communist neighbor despite its nuclear threats. The country's powerful opposition party on Wednesday called for the resignation of Unification Minister Lee Jae-joung and raised suspicions that his push for economic aid to the North was aimed at staging an inter-Korean summit to influence South Korea's presidential election later this year.

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