Iran’s plans for uranium mining alarms US
Iran’s program to mine its own uranium has prompted American concern that the state is continuing to develop its nuclear weapons plan. The Iranian government announced Monday that it will soon open a facility to process the ore into fuel, moving ahead with a nuclear program solely for electrical production.
"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,” said US State Department Spokesman, Richard Boucher. “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 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."
Russia is committed to a 10-year scheme to build six nuclear reactors in Iran, The agreement between both parties also outlines plans to expand conventional power stations, explore oil and gas fields, launch communications satellites and jointly build passenger aircraft.
Iran consented in December to sending back all waste nuclear fuel from its new power plant to Russia, paving the way for the signing of a fuel supply agreement. Coming under intense American pressure, Moscow required the Iranian guarantee prior to commencing fuel deliveries to the nuclear plant at Bushehr. The Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrates Plant has already manufactured 180 fuel rods for the first reactor unit, due to come on stream at the end of 2003.
Iran maintains that it is following international regulations and that all its facilities are open to inspectors from the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Head of the agency, Mohammed El-Baradei will lead a team to the region on February 22 to conduct inspections at two nuclear facilities at Natanz and Arak, in central Iran. — (menareport.com)
© 2003 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)