Tehran, Feb 10, IRNA -- Iran is not interested in any nuclear arms production, but the country seeks to acquire the nuclear know-how for generating electricity to meet part of its energy demands, Vice President and Head of the Iranian Nuclear Energy Organization Gholam-Reza Aqazadeh, said here Monday.
"Having the nuclear know-how is not considered a threat since there are regulations on preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, to which Iran is a party and our steps are aimed to implement all those regulations," the former Iranian oil minister said.
"The Islamic Republic's policy is clear: we want the nuclear know-how, but we are not interested in the proliferation of arms," Aqazadeh said as he welcomed UN atomic energy officials to visit Iran's nuclear facilities.
The head of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohammad ElBaradei, will visit Iran on February 25. Washington claims that Tehran might use its nuclear facilities for the production of non-conventional weapons. The Islamic Republic rejects the allegations.
ElBaradei's visit, Aqazadeh said, is 'a step to make issues more transparent and to make public the lies of those countries which are bearing grudge and enmity' towards Iran.
President Mohammad Khatami on Sunday announced for the first time that Iran had started excavating uranium ore from a mine, 200 km from the central city of Yazd, to produce fuel for its nuclear plants.
The extracted uranium will be sent to a factory which the country is building in the central city of Isfahan to produce 'yellow cake'. Yellow cake or uranium oxide concentrates is the end product of uranium processing before being sintered and made into fuel pellets.
"The (Iranian Nuclear Energy) Organization started its activities by drilling special wells in Ardekan of Yazd where uranium reserves lie deep underground. It now plans to build factory for the production of yellow cake," Aqazadeh said.
The official called uranium sintering factory (USF) in Isfahan as 'unique' which was due to be built by Chinese, but 'the Islamic Republic managed to construct it with the help of domestic industrial units and it is now on the brink of going on stream'.
Aqazadeh said officials had earlier visited the USF and other factories. The products of Isfahan's USF will be used to meet fuel for the nuclear plants of Kashan in central Iran, he added.
"With the completion of Isfahan factory in the near future, we hope to complete the fuel cycle and produce indigenously fuel for our plants," Aqazadeh said.
He, however, stressed that fuel for the Bushehr plant in southern Iran will be supplied by the Russians.
Under a one-billion-dollar deal, Russia has undertaken to finish the Bushehr plant by the end of 2003.
US officials were cited late last year as alleging that American satellites had spotted two Iranian sites, one in the central city of Arak and the other in Natanz in the central province of Isfahan, which suggested they could be used for making nuclear weapons.
Iran strongly rejected the allegations and reiterated that the two plants were intended to generate electricity.
"In the next 20 years, Iran has to produce 6,000 megawatts of electricity from nuclear plants and the launch of these two centers are aimed at producing necessary fuel for these plants," Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said.
"The only international authority which is empowered to verify any violation is the International Atomic Energy Agency," Aqazadeh said.
He also cited the application of the nuclear science in the country, including in agriculture and industry. "Today, all the medicine used in the country's hospitals ... is produced in the Iranian Nuclear Energy Organization.
"The nuclear knowledge includes a massive field and the fuel production cycle is only one of its branches," Aqazadeh added.
President Khatami on Sunday spoke of Iran's determination to generate 6,000 megawatts of electricity by utilizing nuclear power.
Speaking at a gathering of ministry of science, research and technology officials and university chancellors, the president also announced the discovery of uranium deposits near the historic city of Yazd, his home city, and the establishment of uranium processing units in Kashan and Isfahan.
The rise in the cost of production and exploitation of oil and the decline in oil reserves have led countries to consider producing nuclear power as a logical alternative to meet their electricity and other power needs, the daily's managing director, M. Taqi Roghaniha, wrote in its Perspective column.
It may be worth mentioning here that as an alternative to oil, nuclear power has the added advantage of being a cleaner source of power.
In 1968, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was established to ensure that countries that produce nuclear energy would not be a threat to global peace and security by confining their programs to peaceful purposes.
"The IAEA, among other things, has the duty to assist states use atomic power for peaceful purposes."
According to the Perspective, it has become increasingly recognized globally that nuclear energy is an "indisputable exigency" and that the IAEA must, therefore, promote its development.
Even before the victory of the Islamic Revolution in 1979, Iran had already launched construction of a nuclear power facility which was halted when the Iraqis invaded the country in 1980.
The Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, now in the final stage of completion with Russian assistance, is the country's only nuclear power facility. It has been inspected time and again by the world's nuclear watchdog and found to be for peaceful purposes.
"The project for exploiting uranium in Saqand, 200 km (from the central city of) Yazd, and the establishment of the uranium processing unit in Isfahan are among the recent initiatives of the government," the Perspective further said.
It reiterates that "Tehran is committed to its nuclear program in a transparent and clear manner and on the basis of all internationally accepted regulations."
It is the right of any country to use modern technology at its disposal to pursue progress and a better life for its people, the daily said, and urged the IAEA to "facilitate access of all countries to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes."
It said IAEA inspectors should conduct their job "professionally and without the influence of outsiders."
Only by sticking to their mandated objectives and enforcing professional standards can the IEAE's credibility be maitained, it concluded.
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