Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Iran Could Announce Further Uranium Enrichment, Ahmadinejad Suggests
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday suggested his nation could next month announce plans to further refine low-enriched uranium from its stockpile if world powers do not accept Tehran's conditions for importing nuclear material, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, Jan. 22).
Washington and other governments have urged Iran to accept a U.N. plan for enriching much of its uranium to the 20-percent level required for use at a medical research reactor in the nation's capital. Tehran, though, has rejected the proposal's call for a bulk transfer of Iranian uranium to other countries -- a measure aimed at deferring the nation's ability to enrich enough material for a nuclear weapon -- and has offered only to give up small quantities of its low-enriched uranium at a time in simultaneous exchanges for pre-enriched medical reactor fuel.
"Iran has given a chance to Western countries," Ahmadinejad said, according to state media. "Therefore, during the 10 days of dawn (Feb. 1 to 11) we will announce good news regarding the production of 20 percent enriched fuel in our country."
"This news is so sweet that it will make any Iranian and any freedom-loving person in the world happy. This news is about Iran's scientific advancement," he said. Tehran has insisted its nuclear program has no military component (Jay Deshmukh, Agence France-Presse I/Google News, Jan. 24).
French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Friday on the U.N. Security Council to impose new economic penalties aimed at pressuring Iran to resolve concerns over its nuclear work, Reuters reported.
"To hesitate or to prevaricate in the face of such an issue would carry with it a great weight of responsibility," Sarkozy said. "The only aim of sanctions is to lead Iran to the negotiating table."
"Despite all our efforts, and a new engagement by the United States, and despite our ambitious proposals for cooperation, the Iranian authorities are blocked in a one-way street of proliferation and radicalism," he said.
Sarkozy added: "France wants the council to adopt strong measures and for the European Union as well to assume its responsibilities" (Crispian Balmer, Reuters I, Jan. 22).
Sarkozy said in a private meeting Saturday that Israel could act to curb the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, staffers for the French president told the Arabic-language newspaper al-Hayat, according to United Press International. Jerusalem has long threatened to take military action against Iranian nuclear facilities (United Press International, Jan. 24).
Russia warned against the reckless use of sanctions, Reuters reported.
"If our logic is to punish Iran, or if we take up the posture of the offended ... this will not be a sober approach," Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday. "It is not a simple situation and it is not made any easier by the domestic political situation in Iran."
Lavrov added that new economic penalties might prompt Tehran to reduce its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, which monitors the operations of Iranian nuclear facilities.
"We must not take any steps that could open up risks to the work of the agency in this country," he said (Conor Sweeney, Reuters II, Jan. 22).
Top Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili is set to begin a three-day trip to Moscow tomorrow, ITAR-Tass reported.
Jalili, secretary of Iran's supreme national security council, plans to discuss world and regional issues as well as policy matters between the two governments, according to Iranian media (ITAR-Tass, Jan. 24).
The lack of consensus on how to address Iran -- demonstrated at a Jan. 16 meeting of delegates from the five permanent U.N. Security Council member nations and Germany -- bodes poorly for U.S. President Barack Obama's efforts to engage the Middle Eastern state, Time magazine reported.
"The meeting we had last weekend was not great. The Chinese sent someone along who said, 'I can't make any decisions,'" one European diplomat said. Beijing, which wields veto authority over all Security Council decisions like the body's other permanent members, has repeatedly voiced opposition to additional economic penalties targeting Tehran.
Some U.S. and European diplomats remain optimistic that China might endorse a fourth round of sanctions while warning it might be necessary to pursue new penalties without Beijing's participation.
"No one wants to go there," but "what we're saying to the Chinese now explicitly is there's no point in going forward together" if the existing strategy is not effective, the European diplomat said (Massimo Calabresi, Time, Jan. 25).
Meanwhile, a high-level Iranian military official criticized U.S. officers for discussing potential strikes on Iranian nuclear sites, Iran's Fars News Agency reported. U.S. Central Command head Gen. David Petraeus recently referred to the possibility of bombing facilities in an interview with CNN.
"Despite conceding, repeatedly, that any military standoff against Iran would be dangerous and destabilize the whole region for the United States, they (U.S. commanders) continue making crude remarks about Iran's peaceful nuclear fuel facilities," said Iranian armed forces Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi. "Although some of them are cautious about their statements, but they lack necessary awareness in their comments" (Fars News Agency, Jan. 22).
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