Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
. Military Space News .




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



Iran again denies seeking a nuclear bomb

The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman stressed that Tehran had no desire to develop a nuclear bomb but added that the safeguards overseen by the International Atomic Energy Agency meant that it could not do so even if it wanted to.

US seeks to clarify admiral's comment on Iran
The Defense Department on Monday sought to clarify comments made by the top US military officer on Iran's atomic program a day after he said Tehran had enough nuclear material to make a bomb. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was referring to the amount of low-enriched uranium produced by Iran, which would have to be enhanced to weapons-grade uranium to be used in a nuclear bomb, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters. "It's clear they have the capacity to produce low-grade uranium," Whitman said. "When he answered the question about low-grade uranium, it sounded like he was talking about an enriched uranium capability," he said. Whitman blamed media reports for creating "some confusion yesterday." Mullen was asked on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday if Iran had enough nuclear material to make a bomb. He replied: "We think they do, quite frankly." The admiral added: "And Iran having a nuclear weapon, I've believed for a long time, is a very, very bad outcome for the region and for the world." In a separate television interview aired the same day on NBC's "Meet the Press," Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Iran was "not close to a (nuclear) weapon at this point." The Pentagon spokesman said Gates and Mullen shared the same view of Iran's nuclear program and that there was no disagreement. He said "they have the same identical assessments on these things." In its latest report on Iran, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Tehran has produced 1,010 kilograms (2,227 pounds) of low-enriched uranium hexafluoride (LEU) from its work at a plant in Natanz.
by Staff Writers
Tehran (AFP) March 2, 2009
Iran on Monday again denied it is seeking to produce a nuclear bomb, after top US military commander Admiral Mike Mullen charged that it has enough fissile material to build such a weapon.

"All this talk is baseless," foreign ministry spokesman Hassan Ghashghavi said at his weekly news conference.

When asked if Iran had enough nuclear material to manufacture an atomic bomb Mullen had told CNN on Sunday: "We think they do, quite frankly," the first time a US official had made such an assessment.

The Pentagon rowed back on Mullen's comment on Monday, insisting that he had meant Iran had enough uranium which it could enrich to the very high level required for a bomb, not that it had already done so.

"When he answered the question about low-grade uranium, it sounded like he was talking about an enriched uranium capability," spokesman Bryan Whitman told reporters adding that there was no difference of assessment between Mullen and Defence Secretary Robert Gates.

In a separate interview aired on NBC television on Sunday, Gates had said Iran was "not close to a weapon at this point."

The Iranian foreign ministry spokesman stressed that Tehran had no desire to develop a nuclear bomb but added that the safeguards overseen by the International Atomic Energy Agency meant that it could not do so even if it wanted to.

"Technically speaking there are IAEA cameras and the IAEA is testing the purity of Iranian material," he said.

"Therefore, how can it be possible that with this level of supervision, low enriched material can be turned into highly enriched?"

In a report last month, the IAEA said Iran now has 1,010 kilogrammes (2,227 pounds) of low-enriched uranium hexafluoride from its enrichment plant at Natanz.

For use in a bomb as opposed to a nuclear power station, the material would have to be enriched to a far higher level.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, on her first visit to the Middle East as America's top diplomat, on Monday reiterated Washington's willingness to engage with Iran if it "unclenches its fist."

"As President (Barack) Obama says, we are willing to extend a hand if the other side unclenches its fist in order to have some process of engagement," she told a news conference after a donors' meeting on Gaza in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

"But it will only be done in close consultation with our friends," she added.

Clinton declined to comment on remarks attributed to her by a US official expressing doubt that Iran would respond to the US overtures.

Iran and Russia meanwhile pursued their preparations for the launch later this year of Iran's first nuclear power plant in the southern city of Bushehr.

Visiting Russian Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko held talks on Monday evening with the head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, state television reported on its website.

After their meeting, Shmatko said he hoped that "the ongoing operations related to the commissioning would be done successfully. I think our cooperation will remove any problem," he added.

Iran began testing the 1,000 megawatt Russian-built plant on Wednesday.

Moscow has repeatedly assured global powers that the plant will not be used for military ends. It is supplying the fuel for the plant and will ship the spent fuel back to Russia after use.

earlier related report
Iran has enough material to make nuclear bomb: US admiral
Iran has enough fissile material to build a nuclear bomb, top US military officer Admiral Mike Mullen said, marking Washington's first such assessment.

"We think they do, quite frankly," Mullen told CNN Sunday, when asked if Iran had enough nuclear material to manufacture an atomic bomb.

"And Iran having a nuclear weapon, I've believed for a long time, is a very, very bad outcome for the region and for the world," said Mullen, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Mullen's remarks came in the wake of a report by the UN nuclear watchdog that said Tehran had made major strides in its uranium enrichment work.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Tehran now has 1,010 kilograms (2,227 pounds) of low-enriched uranium hexafluoride (LEU) from its enrichment activities at a plant at Natanz.

That "is sufficient for a nuclear weapons breakout capability," according to David Albright, president of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security and an expert on Iran's nuclear program.

A breakout capability is defined as securing enough low-enriched uranium, used for nuclear fuel, to turn into highly enriched uranium (HEU) needed for nuclear weapons.

While IAEA experts put the amount needed for an atomic bomb at about 1,700 kilograms (3,748 pounds) of LEU, some analysts believe that smaller quantities might be enough.

Iran denies its atomic work is designed to build a nuclear arsenal and says it wants to develop nuclear technology to generate electricity for a growing population.

Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, insisted that Natanz was not configured to produce HEU.

Round-the-clock camera surveillance, the presence of inspectors and the ability of UN inspectors to make unannounced inspections made it "practically impossible" for Iran to switch from making low-enriched to high-enriched uranium, he said.

"The world would know within a second."

The United States and its European allies have previously expressed concern that Iran could soon have sufficient enriched uranium to manufacture a nuclear weapon but Mullen's more definitive comments went a step further.

The White House declined to comment on Sunday.

But US Defense Secretary Robert Gates struck a more cautious note on Iran's nuclear project.

"I think that there has been a continuing focus on how do you get the Iranians to walk away from a nuclear weapons program? They're not close to a stockpile. They're not close to a weapon at this point.

"And so, there is some time," Gates told NBC's "Meet the Press."

He said diplomacy carried a greater chance of success now that oil prices had dropped, enhancing the effect of economic sanctions on Iran, which relies heavily on oil revenue.

"Our chances of being successful, it seems to me, are a lot better at 35 dollars or 40 dollars" than 140 dollars a barrel, the peak of oil prices last June, Gates said.

"Because there are economic costs to this program. They do have economic challenges at home."

Iran's first satellite launch and the announcement that it could start up its first nuclear power plant in Bushehr within months have heightened concerns in Western capitals.

European states are considering imposing new sanctions on individuals and institutions linked to Iran's nuclear efforts, diplomats in several capitals said Thursday.

At its spring meeting starting Monday, the IAEA's 35-member board of governors will take its first look at Iran's nuclear program since President Barack Obama took power and said the United States could engage in direct talks with Iran.

The IAEA's six year-old investigation into Iran's nuclear activities is deadlocked, with Tehran refusing to suspend uranium enrichment, despite repeated UN sanctions. It is also stonewalling questions on the possible military dimensions of past nuclear work.

In an interview with The Washington Post newspaper and Newsweek magazine published Saturday, Israeli Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu said that a nuclear-armed Iran "would cause a great threat not only to Israel's security but the stability of just about every Arab government in the Middle East."

"Many Arab governments would enter into a nuclear arms race, and this is something that is inimical to the interests of all those who seek peace and security," the Israeli leader warned.

Share This Article With Planet Earth
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit
YahooMyWebYahooMyWeb GoogleGoogle FacebookFacebook



Related Links
Learn about nuclear weapons doctrine and defense at SpaceWar.com
Learn about missile defense at SpaceWar.com
All about missiles at SpaceWar.com
Learn about the Superpowers of the 21st Century at SpaceWar.com



Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News


IAEA chief urges Iran to 'unblock' nuclear stalemate
Vienna (AFP) March 2, 2009
UN atomic watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei urged Iran on Monday to "unblock" a long-running nuclear standoff and expressed hope that a possible change in US policy towards Tehran may help break the deadlock.







  • British PM set for key White House talks
  • Russian bomber intercepted as Obama visited Canada
  • China, US agree to resume key military exchanges
  • Atlantic Eye: Wesley Clark's touch

  • Iran again denies seeking a nuclear bomb
  • Iran, Syria in spotlight of UN nuclear watchdog
  • US NKorea envoy due in Beijing on Tuesday
  • Russia set against extending START treaty: Lavrov

  • NKorean satellite launch would trigger UN sanctions: Aso
  • NKorea assembling rocket ahead of planned launch: report
  • NKorea builds underground missile fuelling station: report
  • Trident II D5 Missile Achieves 126 Successful Test Flights

  • Israel government rapped over rocket shield delays
  • Russia expecting new US missile defence proposals
  • Obama vows to help troops, cut weapon programs
  • BMD Focus: Biden dances in Munich

  • British, Chinese firms seal major aviation deal
  • Top Chinese aircraft maker launches global recruitment drive
  • Major airlines call for climate deal to include aviation
  • Swiss aircraft firm to cut jobs in Ireland

  • Pakistan wants to discuss US drone attacks
  • MoD Police Try Out UAV
  • US drones are based in Pakistan: senator
  • AeroVironment Launches Production Of Its New Digital Data Link

  • Obama deferred to military's advice on Iraq: Gates
  • Analysis: First U.S. case for Iraqi terror
  • Iraq a 'success,' withdrawal plan unlikely to change: Gates
  • Obama ready to set out Iraq withdrawal plan

  • New Overhead Remote Controlled Weapon Station-Multi
  • Raytheon To Produce GPS-Related Advanced Anti-Jamming Antenna System
  • BAE Launches New Variant Of Export Mine Protected Vehicle
  • Upgraded COBRA DANE Radar Transferred To USAF

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2007 - SpaceDaily.AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights 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