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Irrational US View Will Not Prevail: Iran's FM

Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki. Photo courtesy of AFP.
by Staff Writers
Doha (AFP) Mar 23, 2006
US pressure on the UN Security Council to penalise Iran for its nuclear policy is "irrational" and will not succeed, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said in Qatar Wednesday. "I predict that the irrational American view will not prevail in the security council," Mottaki told reporters after meeting with Qatar's emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa.

The tiny resource-rich Gulf emirate is a strong US ally and a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council.

"There are two views in the Security Council -- the first is based on confrontation and is advocated by a few countries and the second presses for a peaceful resolution," said Mottaki.

"The European members of the Security Council do not share the same opinion, and some of the permanent and non-permanent members of the council are saying that dialogue must be given a chance," he added without specifying any of the 15 council members.

Expressing a contrary sentiment, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Wednesday she was confident Washington and its allies would reach agreement on a resolution to pressure Iran to give up its suspected nuclear weapons ambitions.

The council is debating a response to Tehran's defiance to demands that it halt uranium enrichment, which the Islamic republic insists is for peaceful purposes.

But the council hit a stalemate on Tuesday postponing a scheduled meeting to allow more time to narrow differences on a Franco-British statement on the Iranian nuclear crisis, diplomats said. No new date had been set.

Western powers see adoption of the non-binding statement as the first step in a graduated response that could ultimately lead to sanctions against Tehran.

But Russia and China, which have close economic and energy ties with Tehran, oppose sanctions and insist on the International Atomic Energy Agency retaining the lead role in the issue.

Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States are the council's five veto-wielding permanent members.

Commenting on the expected talks between Tehran and Washington over Iraq, which were endorsed Tuesday by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Mottaki said violence in the war-shattered country would ease with a US timetable to pull its troops out.

"Iraq will be stable if the security file was handed over to the Iraqi government and people and America set a timetable to pull out its troops," he said calling on Iraqis to form a new government "as soon as possible."

Mottaki had earlier met Qatar's emir for "a few hours to discuss regional and international affairs and bilateral relations," said the official QNA news agency.

Qatar has increasingly been gaining a high profile diplomatic role in the region. In particular, it has been dealing with Iran and Syria, both at loggerheads with the Washington and the West over their policies.

The emir met late Tuesday with Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem, Syrian Ambassador Hajem Ibrahim told AFP without giving further details.

Qatar has been involved in diplomacy to try to calm tensions between Beirut and Damascus more than a year after the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafiq Hariri. Lebanon's anti-Syrian parliamentary majority blames the crime on Syria, the long-time powerbroker in Lebanon before it pulled it troops out last year.

The killing of Hariri and 22 others is the subject of an ongoing UN probe which has been seeking to question Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Source: Agence France-Presse

related report

Interview: Viktor Mikhailov Part 1
by Viktor Litovkin
UPI Outside View Commentator Moscow (UPI) Mar 23 - Viktor Mikhailov is a full member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the director of the Institute of Strategic Stability of the Russian Federal Agency for Nuclear Power, a chief expert of the Russian Federal Nuclear Center at the Research Institute of Experimental Physics, a holder of the Soviet and Russian Lenin and State awards, and was the nuclear minister from 1992-1998. He discussed his insight into Iran's nuclear capabilities and ambitions with Viktor Litovkin, military commentator for the RIA Novosti news agency. This article is reprinted by permission of RIA Novosti and is the first of two parts.

RIA NOVOSTI: What is your general assessment of Iran's nuclear capability now?

MIKHAILOV: Though I am hardly in a position to judge, I have seen and talked to talented young experts when visiting their nuclear centers. Many of those people had graduated from universities in Western Europe and the United States. Moreover, I just recently made a small inquiry to learn that around 10,000 young specialists are still being trained there. Russia has never trained Iranians, except for Bushehr power plant operators.

The West has helped greatly build Tehran's nuclear industry, a great embarrassment for the Americans nowadays. When they tell me they do not believe Iran really needs a national nuclear power industry, I just ask them: "OK, but were it not you who once said you were going to build 20 NPPs there? Could you then explain why we cannot do now what you thought was quite appropriate for yourselves?"

They won't answer, but the answer is simple enough. A country with a national nuclear power capability sits firmly on the cutting edge of global technology. This means that there will always be jobs at home, and young people will stay at home. A country has no future if its young generation is fleeing abroad.

My assessment of Iran's nuclear level would be straightforward: It is very high. I have seen people working with neutron generators there who could very ably handle the 3D neutron registration software, a very complicated package (they received it from France) which shows a very realistic pattern of neutron flows stemming from a nuclear fission reaction.

In the early 1990s, when I was in Iran for the first time, I saw there the magnificent American Sun 4 and Sun 5 computers, which the United States barred from selling to Russia but sold freely to Iran; and they were working there very effectively. It is true that Iranian girls wear black shawls to conceal their hair but the girls I saw -- who had also graduated from U.S. universities -- were very smart when it came to handling state-of-the-art computers. The Iranians just took the United States by surprise by toppling the shah and starting a new state that would not pander to Washington. In short, it was the United States who built Iran's nuclear work force.

Historically, Persian people have been very intellectual. Of course, Iran saw a major setback in the beginning of the 19th century when Europe took the lead. But they have sent their young people to learn from the West, many are trained in the West now, and, I think, their research capability is very good.

And it has, in fact, very little to do with oil and gas. What the Americans do not like is Iran's national status, its government, its independence, and its reluctance to take orders from U.S. diplomats. This is a separate issue and it has nothing to do with Iran's nuclear program.

Q. Do we need to worry about an Iranian nuclear bomb in the near future?

A. People often ask me this question, which sometimes is formulated somewhat differently: "Do you think they want it or think about it?" I answer, yes, I do; they definitely want it and they clearly think about it, as nuclear weapons have become a critical factor of independence and sovereignty. The U.S. policy is mainly about exporting democracy by making offers one cannot refuse. They are doing this to countries whose history dates back millennia and who have unthinkable contributions to mankind under their belt. What Americans do not know how to do is take into account others' national sensitivities, customs, and traditions. What they are doing is trying to inculcate those countries with American lifestyles -- something that is hardly possible.

Q. Back to Iran. Can it ultimately create a nuclear weapon?

A. Of course, it can. Any highly developed country can do this, it's available on the Internet, if you like. The truth is that one needs much money and time. In the case of Iran, I think, they will do it in five to 10 years. I mean, they will be able to build a basic nuclear weapon. This weapon will not be as modern as Russian or American, but it does not matter -- the Americans are afraid of any, even old, nukes. Washington understands, sure enough, that however hard they try to build a nuclear missile shield, you don't have to deliver a nuke through space where the entire world will see it. There are many other ways, and what they are ultimately afraid of is at least one blast inside the United States. Their people will bury any administration that allows it to happen.

Q. The West does not trust Tehran. Why is Russia selling its nuclear technology to Iran?

A. Russia has never sold any nuclear technology. To tell you more, Russia, since Soviet times, has been constantly on watch for nuclear proliferation.

Proliferation was something only the West, with its century-old free market economy, could engage in. This is just because a free market economy is profit-oriented. If some relevant materials or technologies appeared and was not included in prohibitive lists fast enough -- state authorities were rarely fast enough -- it was sold without ceremony.

Everything the Iranians have today has come from the West. Even our fuel for nuclear power plants will be withdrawn for reprocessing at home and replaced with fresh cells. What President (George W.) Bush is promoting now, as if it were his own brilliant idea, a nuclear fuel leasing system, when a country pays for fuel and we deliver on the conditions of removing fuel wastes. Some Russian experts and I proposed it more than a decade ago. But the Americans did not support us. Their millionaire Alex Copson was in this business then and he wanted to do this, but President Clinton did not allow him to.

Q. Was Copson working with the Department of Energy?

A. He wasn't. Our acquaintance was a coincidence, in fact; he came to me with a project to lease a Pacific atoll and to use it as nuclear dumpsite and production facility for nuclear fuel -- in order to have a dumpsite in a remote ....

Q. And well-guarded, I expect?

A. ... Absolutely -- remote, neutral territory. Well, the point is, we have never sold anything abroad because the Americans were there. They sold, I have already mentioned that, even plutonium, to say nothing of other things. Do you know how Israel and South Africa gained access to nuclear weapons? It's clear they did.

Q.: How?

A.: With help from the United States.

Q.: There is information that the British helped Israel ...

A.: They did, but they were far from alone there. Israelis got a great deal of help from Washington through a British-American company in South Africa.

In (South) Africa, isotopes were separated by filtering uranium hexafluoride through a convergent-divergent nozzle, rather than in a centrifuge or by diffusion. Israelis may have got one or two (nuclear) charges and even tested them.

Later, South Africa had to abandon all those activities. I have been there and I can say the facilities were working very effectively as long as the white minority was in charge. They are not working any longer, small bits may have gone to Israel.

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Major Powers Fail To Break Impasse Over Iran
New York (AFP) Mar 23, 2006
Envoys of the five veto-wielding members of the UN Security held informal contacts here Wednesday but failed to break an impasse over a draft statement urging Iran to suspend uranium enrichment. US ambassador John Bolton hosted the gathering at his country's UN mission which was attended by his counterparts from Britain, China, France and Russia.

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