Iran News ...


2/11/03

Boucher Says Iran Uranium Mining Raises "Serious Questions"

Urges Iran to cooperate with IAEA, which is scheduled to visit February 25

Iran's admission that it has been mining its own uranium raises "serious questions" about its "supposedly peaceful nuclear program," said State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher.

Briefing reporters at the State Department February 10, Boucher said that the U.S. continues to have "grave" concerns that Iran is continuing to develop its nuclear weapons program.

"Iran's admission that it's been mining uranium, when Russia has agreed to provide all the uranium fuel for lifetime of the Bushehr reactor, raises serious questions about Iran's supposedly peaceful nuclear program. Iran's ambitious and costly pursuit of a complete nuclear fuel cycle only makes sense if it's in support of a nuclear weapons program," Boucher said.

Boucher added that if press reports suggesting that Iran will reprocess spent fuel were accurate, this would "directly contradict" Iran's agreement with Russia to return all of the spent fuel to Russia.

"That would cause us further concern, as it would lay bare Iran's ambitious desire to develop the capability to produce weapons-usable fissile material under its own control," Boucher said.

Boucher urged the Iranians to cooperate with International Atomic Energy Agency general director Mohamed ElBaradei and his team, who are scheduled to visit Iran February 25.

"We urge Iran to make good on this claim of transparency by accepting and fully implementing the International Atomic Energy Agency's safeguard-strengthening additional protocol," Boucher said.

Boucher added that the United States would continue to work with other governments to prevent Iran from further pursuing the development of a nuclear weapons program.

Following is an excerpt from the February 10 State Department briefing containing Boucher's comments on Iran:


QUESTION: The Iranian uranium enrichment program. It's kind of hard to say that.

MR. BOUCHER: That's good. I wonder if I could say that. I won't try.

We continue to have very grave concerns that Iran is using its supposedly peaceful nuclear program, including construction of the reactor at Bushehr as a pretext for advancing a nuclear weapons program.

Iran's admission that it's been mining uranium when Russia has agreed to provide all the uranium fuel for the lifetime of the Bushehr raises serious questions about Iran's supposedly peaceful nuclear program.

Iran's ambitious and costly pursuit of a complete nuclear fuel cycle only makes sense if it's in support of a nuclear weapons program. President Khatami's admission of Iranian uranium mining comes only two weeks before the February 25th visit to Iran of the International Atomic Energy Agency's Director General, Dr. ElBaradei and the International Atomic Energy Agency experts.

We look forward to Dr. ElBaradei's report at the appropriate time. We urge Iran to make good on its claim of transparency by accepting and fully implementing the International Atomic Energy Agency's safeguard strengthening additional protocol. We expect the International Atomic Energy Agency will vigorously investigate Iran's nuclear program, particularly in light of the two previously secret nuclear-related facilities that came to light recently, only through the press disclosure by an Iranian -- anti-Iranian group.

Some of the press today suggested that President Khatami has claimed that Iran will reprocess spent fuel, presumably from the Bushehr reactor. If accurate, that would directly contradict Iran's agreement with Russia to return all of the spent fuel to Russia. That would cause us further concern as it would lay bare Iran's ambitious desire to develop the capability to produce weapons-useable fissile material under its own control.

QUESTION: Can I just follow up on that? I didn't quite understand why you should care whether they get this stuff from Russia or whether they would mine it. Presumably, if they mine it they save themselves money which might be the motivation. Do you have any reason, any other, any reason to doubt that --

MR. BOUCHER: Because mining is not necessarily cheaper and it puts a goodly part of the nuclear fuel cycle outside of the control of whoever's providing the reactor and the fuel. The agreement as we understood it, as we heard it from others had been that Russia would provide the fuel and take it back after it was used in the reactor. If you have Iran pursuing a complete nuclear fuel cycle, that would only make sense in the context of a weapons program.

QUESTION: What are you going to do about it?

MR. BOUCHER: This is something that we'll continue to look to other governments to cooperate with to prevent Iran from going in this direction. It's a matter that we hope the Iranians will cooperate with Dr. ElBaradei and his team when they go to Iran next week, and we look forward to seeing his report and we'll continue to work with other governments on this matter.

... Payvand News - 2/11/03 ... --



comments powered by Disqus

Home | ArchiveContact | About |  Web Sites | Bookstore | Persian Calendar | twitter | facebook | RSS Feed


© Copyright 2003 NetNative (All Rights Reserved)