Nuclear Weapons - 2004 Developments
In January 2004 Tehran acknowledged that it was continuing to assemble additional centrifuges. This appeared to violated the the 31 October 2003 agreement -- brokered by France, Britain and Germany -- to suspend uranium enrichment activities.
On 12 February 2004 the International Atomic Energy Agency found designs for the advanced P2 centrifuge that should have been, but were not, mentioned in Iran's October 2003 declaration of its atomic program. Pakistan had supplied Libya with the same type of plans for a gas centrifuge but also with a weapon design. It was unclear whether or not the Pakistanis had also supplied Iran with a nuclear weapon warhead design.
Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Asefi, released a statement 13 February 2004, saying that Iran has had big success in the field of nuclear fuel cycle technology. Asefi also said Iran's advances were made in an attempt to overcome US sanctions, and to ensure that Iran can become energy self-sufficient in the coming years. The spokesman for the Iranian foreign minister said Friday that his government favors banning weapons of mass destruction, because Iran was subject to chemical attacks by Saddam Hussein's regime during the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s. "The technology to enrich uranium is a peaceful example of using nuclear technology for generating energy and all members of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will have to cooperate with each other on that," he said.
Under Secretary of State John Bolton said the finding shows Iran continues to pursue nuclear weapons. "The information that the IAEA has learned is certainly consistent with the information that we had, and it's not surprising. It's another act of Iranian deception and not something that leads to any feeling of security, that they are carrying through on their commitment to suspend enrichment activity," Bolton said. "There is no doubt in our mind that Iran continues to pursue a nuclear weapons program," said Deputy of Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage
On 13 February 2004 US State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said disclosure by International Atomic Energy Agency officials reinforced the US view that Iran has continuing nuclear weapons ambitions. "We do not believe that Iran has made a strategic decision to abandon its efforts to develop a nuclear weapons capability. Furthermore, we don't believe that Iran has been fully transparent in its October declaration to the International Atomic Energy Agency despite the (IAEA) board of governors having determined it essential that the declaration reflect a correct, complete and final picture of Iran's past and present program."
On 09 March 2004 Alireza Jafarzadeh, who disclosed in August 2002 Iran's facilities at Natanz and Arak, said Iranian leaders decided at a recent meeting to seek an atom bomb "at all costs" and begin enriching uranium at secret plants. "They set a timetable to get a bomb by the end of 2005 at the latest," the former spokesman for the National Council of Resistance of Iran said. "They will heavily rely on smaller secret enrichment sites at Karaj, Esfahan and at other places."
On 18 June 2004 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) adopted a resolution deploring Iran for not cooperating fully with nuclear inspectors and urging Iran to be more forthcoming. Iran said it will decide soon whether to resume uranium enrichment, after it was criticized the IAEA. Hassan Rowhani, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, said that a decision should be made "in the coming days." This left the matter open until the IAEA's next board meeting in September. Rowhani said this showed Britain, Germany and France had not kept their part of a deal from last October, under which Iran agreed to suspend enrichment: "In fact, what we reached in agreement with the Europeans in Brussels is concluded in our viewpoints," Rowhani said. "The Europeans themselves ignored the matter. They committed to closing down the file in June. Therefore, as they did not act on their commitments to our end, we are not committed anymore."
The US envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Kenneth Brill, said that if Tehran reneges on its earlier pledge to suspend uranium enrichment, it will show that Iran is determined to become a nuclear power in the region. "If Iran were to follow up on its many repeated threats to abrogate its commitments to the Europeans to suspend its enrichment work, it would be another demonstration of their true colors, that they are determined to have an enrichment program and one that goes well beyond the needs for a power program, and we think that underscores their desire to pursue military purposes for their nuclear program."
On 24 June 2004 Iran informed Britain, France and Germany that it would resume making uranium centrifuge parts, ending the October 2003 agreement with the three countries.
An annual Israeli intelligence assessment delivered to the government officials on 21 July 2004 estimated that Iran could have a nuclear bomb by 2008, Ma'ariv" reported on 22 July 2004. According to this report, the assessment concluded that Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons represented the greatest threat to Israel. This press report claimed that the assessment contended that international nuclear inspections in Iran had stalled the progress of Tehran's uranium-enrichment program by two or three years. This report claimed that enrichment has a long maturation process and, once halted, must be started again from scratch. Israeli Defense Force intelligence had previously claimed that Iran could have a nuclear capability by 2005.
Some sources suggest that Iran could complete development of its first nuclear weapon in 2005. US Undersecretary of State John Bolton has said Teheran told Britain, France and Germany that Iran could enrich enough uranium for a nuclear weapon within a year. "If we permit Iran's deception to go on much longer, it will be too late," Bolton told the Hudson Institute on 17 August 2004. "Iran will have nuclear weapons."
On 31 August 2004 Ali Younesi, Iran`s Information (Intelligence) Minister announced that several people had been arrested for spying on the country`s nuclear program. "The Information Ministry has arrested several spies who were transferring Iran`s nuclear information (out of the country)," he said. Younesi did not release the names of those arrested, but said that members of the Mujahedin Khalq Organization (MKO), have passed the bulk of secrets about Iran`s nuclear program to the country`s enemies. "Munafeqin [hypocrites] have had the lead role in passing information (about Iran`s nuclear facilities) and have already expressed their pride in spying against Iran."
On Friday 3 September 2004 Tehran's Friday Prayers leader said: "Islamic Awakening has resulted in the failure of Zionist plots against Muslims". Tehran's Friday Prayers Leader, Ayatollah Mohammad Emami Kashani while pointing to Iraq and Palestine's issues said: "The Zionists, through overt US support seek to dominate Islamic countries' resources and wealth but Islamic awakening and the role played by Islamic authorities has neutralized their efforts". Ayatollah Emami Kashani called Tehran's policies with regards to its peaceful nuclear activities as transparent and added: "Due to Islamic teachings, Islamic Republic of Iran would never seek to utilize nuclear power for military purposes." Tehran's Friday prayer leader called the White House rulers liars in confronting international issues and said: "The White House arrogance acts according to its interests even though it has to commit crimes in the process." Ayatollah Emami Kashani warned the White House rulers of unwise acts against Iran saying: "unwise actions against Iran would only result in regrets and loss of face."
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