Nuclear Weapons - 2002 Developments
The representative office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran in Washington, D.C., revealed on Wednesday, 14 August 2002, two top-secret nuclear sites in Iran and the clerical regime's new nuclear, biological and chemical weapons projects at a press conference in Washington, DC. On the surface, the Iranian regime's main nuclear activities are focused on Bushehr's nuclear power plant, but in reality secret nuclear programs are at work without the knowledge of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). One of these top secret projects is Natanz's nuclear facility. Natanz is about 100 miles north of Isfahan. The other one is Arak's atomic facilities. Arak is a city in central Iran, 150 miles south of Tehran.
Two sites, near the cities of Natanz and Arak south of Tehran, appear designed to help produce enriched uranium or plutonium, the fissile material needed for nuclear weapons. Until the facilities were revealed in August 2002 by the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the Iranian government had not disclosed their existence to the IAEA. Their existence suggests Iran has other secret nuclear facilities.
US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said during a 13 December 2002 State Department briefing that the United States has "reached the conclusion that Iran is actively working to develop nuclear-weapons capability." Boucher discussed the construction of a heavy-water facility at Arak and a possible uranium-enrichment facility in Natanz. Boucher also stated that, "there is no economic gain for a state that's rich in oil and gas like Iran to build costly nuclear fuel-cycle facilities. I would point out that Iran flares more gas annually than the equivalent energy its desired reactors would produce" (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 16 December 2002).
Iranian Vice President for Atomic Energy Qolam-Reza Aqazadeh-Khoi on 17 December 2002 rejected US accusations that Iran is trying to acquire weapons of mass destruction. Aqazadeh said that only the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is legally authorized to deal with nuclear issues. The previous day, Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said Iran does not intend to build nuclear weapons and that all its efforts in the nuclear-energy sphere have peaceful objectives.
President Mohammad Khatami on 18 December 2002 rejected US allegations that Iran is developing a nuclear-weapons capability, IRNA reported. Khatami said that the allegations are baseless and that Iran is in compliance with international standards. Khatami said, according to IRNA, "Iran is working under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency, and Iran is a signatory to the [Nuclear] Nonproliferation Treaty and does not seek nuclear arms."
Brigadier General Nasser Mohammadifar, the commander of the Iranian Army's ground forces, said during a 19 December 2002 ceremony to post the 38th independent armored brigade at Torbat-i Jam's Mohammad Rasulallah garrison that Iran does not intend to the use the nuclear facility it is building in Bushehr for military purposes. Mohammadifar added, "Iran will never pursue the manufacture, purchase, or use of weapons of mass destruction and unconventional arms."
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