Nuclear Weapons - 2007 Developments
On 3 January 2007 Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran would soon start industrial production of nuclear fuel. Iran started up a second experimental chain of 164 centrifuges at its pilot nuclear facility at Natanz in October 2006, and said it would launch a total of 3,000 centrifuges there by next March 2008.
On 8 January 2007 after meetings with Manuchehr Mottaki, the Foreign Minister of Iran, Igor Ivanov the Russian security chief said Russia was determined to finish the Bushehr nuclear power plant on schedule. Payment issues and international pressure had raised doubts about whether this would happen.
On 10 January 2007 two inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrived in Iran. The inspectors were to inspect Iran's nuclear installations in Isfahan and Natanz and also planned to hold discussions with officials of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization.
On 19 January 2007 Gholamhossein Elham an Iranian government spokesman said Iran was "moving toward[s] the production of nuclear fuel, which requires 3,000 centrifuges and more than this figure.this program is being carried out and moving toward completion." Leaders in Tehran declared that the nuclear facility at Natanz would be ready for the installation of the centrifuges by March 20th. There were 164 known centrifuges reported by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors on the main floor of Natanz, prior to being asked to leave by the Iranian government.
On 22 January 2007 the Iranian Foreign Minister Manuchehr Mottaki confirmed that 38 IAEA inspectors would not be allowed in the country. The Iranian government sent the names of those individuals to the IAEA. The EU reacted by urging all nations to enforce UN's sanctions on Iran.
On 31 January 2007 Iran's Moscow embassy denied that North Korea was giving technical help to prepare for an underground nuclear test.
On 1 February 2007 the French president's office referred to Iran's nuclear program as "opaque and therefore dangerous for the region" thereby recanting a previous comment by Jacques Chirac that should Iran develop nuclear weapons they would not be "very dangerous".
On 8 February 2007 Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei commented that though he did not expect an attack on Iran and its nuclear facilities from the United States, if one were to come, Iran would react by retaliating against American interests around the world. A White House National Security Council spokesman dismissed the Supreme Leader's speech as "unprovoked" and said that the President "had made it clear we have no intention of going to war with Iran."
On 10 February 2007 the IAEA halted approximately half of its projects that provided technical assistance to Iran. This decision still had to be agreed upon by the IAEA's board consisting of representatives from 35-nations. The next meeting of the board was to take place in March.
On 11 February 2007 Gholam Reza Aghazadeh the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, commented that the Russian supplier for its Bushehr nuclear plant had halted its work on the plant due to payment delays. He instead said that the complications lied with the Russian company. President Ahmadinejad said Iran wanted to cooperate with the IAEA and to resolve its problems with nuclear program, but refused to stop their enrichment of uranium. Iranian officials said they will allow for the facility at Natanz to be monitored by IAEA cameras. Later in the month he also suggested that Iran would be willing to suspend uranium enrichment if all Western nations with enrichment programs also halted theirs.
On 22 February 2007 the IAEA presented a report to the U.N. Security Council which concluded that Iran had not halted its enrichment efforts as was demanded by the Security Council's 23 December 2006 resolution. Instead, according to the IAEA report, Iran had increased the pace of its nuclear activities and was constructing a heavy water reactor, transporting 9 tons of gaseous feedstock to the plant at Natanz.
On 5 March 2007 Mohammad El Baradei said he was "unable to provide the required assurance about the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program." Iran refused to allow the IAEA to place cameras in the Natanz facility, contrary to remarks made in February. El Baradei also reported that the IAEA was not sure that Iran's nuclear program was peaceful and that question would remain until Iran became more cooperative.
On 7 March 2007 the board of the IAEA met to decide how many technical aid programs to Iran to stop. Ali Ashgar Soltanieh, stated that, "weapons of mass destruction have no place in the Islamic Republic of Iran's defense doctrine," reiterating Iran's denial of seeking a weapons program. The IAEA voted unanimously on 9 March 2007 to cut 22, or nearly half of its technical aid programs to Iran.
On 12 March 2007 Atomstroiexport the Russian company constructing Iran's reactor at Bushehr, announced that the facility's opening pushed back two months because of payment delays preventing uranium fuel from being delivered.
On 15 March 2007 The United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany came to a draft resolution that would impose sanctions on Iran for suspending uranium enrichment.
On 21 March 2007 American and European officials claimed that Russia had pulled out approximately 2,000 technicians and engineers who were working to complete the Bushehr reactor. Sergei Novikov, speaking on behalf of Rosatom, the Russian Federal Nuclear Power Agency, confirmed the number of Russian workers had dwindled thanks to payment delays. Iran's Bushehr reactor was only 5% unfinished but was about eight years behind schedule.
On 24 March 2007 the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution increasing sanctions against Iran for it's refusal to halt uranium enrichment. In response the Iranian leaders referred to the new sanctions as "unnecessary and unjustified" and further limited the cooperation with the IAEA. In response, Iran planned to stop giving the IAEA information about the design of upcoming nuclear facilities.
On 9 April 2007 Reza Aqazadeh the Iranian Vice President and head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) celebrated Iran's National Day of Nuclear Technology and said, "Today, with the start of uranium enrichment on industrial scale, another step was taken for the progress of the Islamic Republic." The IAEO had made yellow cake as the basic substance for nuclear fuel production throughout facilities in Yazd, Hormuzgan, Ardakan, and Bandar Abbas provinces. Iran wanted next to add UF6, production to the Isfahan facility. Iran reported that it had begun enriching uranium with 3,000 centrifuges. This number was later challanged by the IAEA, and by May an anonymous Iranian source said the number was closer to 1300. Even by September, when the claim was made again, the IAEA suggested the number was still under 2,000.
On 10 April 2007 Manuchehr Mottaki Iran's Foreign Minister said Iran would not suspend its uranium enrichment program and suggested that the world accept the "new reality" of an Iranian nuclear program.
On 11 April 2007 an IAEA spokeswoman predicted that Iran will not have the capability to build an atomic bomb for four to six years.
On 16 April 2007 Ahmad Fayazbakhsh, the deputy head of the IAEO reported "Iran is launching two international tenders for the construction of two nuclear power states of between 1,000 and 1,600 megawatts capacity in Bushehr."
On 18 April 2007 the IAEA's top inspector stated that Iran had begun enriching uranium in more than 1300 centrifuges in eight cascades at and underground location in Natanz. The IAEA's Iranian ambassador declared "our enrichment is continuing under the safeguards of the IAEA, the inspectors and cameras are controlling all activities, and the report of how many centrifuge machines and the latest status of the activities in Natanz will be reported by the director-general."
On 26 April 2007 the Iranian cabinet approved the creation of three nuclear companies the Uranium Processing and Nuclear Fuel Production Company of Iran, Uranium Enrichment Company of Iran, and Nuclear Industry Waste Management Company of Iran. The three businesses are private joint-stock entities and they have all been given an investment of one billion Rials , or approximately $107,944.79 10 June 2008 dollars, for an indefinite time period.
On 18 May 2007 Japan imposed additional sanctions against Iran to help the UN persuade the Islamic Republic to halt uranium enrichment that could be used in weapons production.
On 24 May 2007 the IAEA stated in a report, that coincided with the expiration of a Security Council ultimatum that demanded Iran halt its uranium enrichment activities, that the Iranians have increased their enrichment efforts. The IAEA' said that their"level of knowledge of certain aspects of Iran's nuclear-related activities had deteriorated," partly due to the Iranians limiting IAEA access to certain nuclear sites. Ali Larijani, the Secretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council declared that the report "proves that Iran is moving within the framework of...international laws, and is merely using its legitimate rights in its peaceful nuclear activities." He in addition said, "[El Baradei stated] in his report that no sign of reprocessing had been observed in Iran...In both UNSC resolutions it was emphadized that Iran must suspend its reprocessing activities...this proves the UN Security Council was not dealing with Iran's nuclear dossier technically."
On 14 June 2007 Muhammad el-Baradei, the head of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), called on Iran to declare a moratorium on enriching uranium and resume negotiations on its nuclear program.
On 23 June 2007 the Iranians announced that they had stockpiled 100kg of enriched uranium to civilian nuclear power stations grade.
On 26 June 2007 IAEA announced that they were planning to send inspectors to Iran in the coming weeks at the behest of Iran in hopes to clear up questions about the nature of its nuclear program.
On 9 July 2007 satellite photos showed that there was a large amount of digging taking place on a mountainside near the Natanz nuclear facility. There was also a fortified building where uranium was being processed. Various structures were also being connected by roads to Iran's primary nuclear site. In a comment by IAEA spokeswoman, Melissa Fleming, "We have been in contact with the Iranian authorities about this, and we have received clarifications".
On 14 July 2007 the IAEA confirmed that Tehran assented to allow inspectors into its nuclear facility at Arak. Iran claims the research reactor in Arak, will be finished in 2008 and will make isotopes for peaceful uses such for medicine. It will replace Tehran's 1970s light water reactor.
On 9 August 2007 Rosatom, declared it was not planning further deliveries of nuclear fuel to the Bushehr reactor in the near future due to financial and technical issues. In addition, Moscow has said that it demanded that Tehran provide information to IAEA inspectors, it should also stop enriching uranium, and declassify its nuclear program.
On 29 August 2007 Iran and the IAEA made public that they were intending to end the investigation started in 2003 on Iranian nuclear issues by December 2007. Iran also agreed that it was ready to explain why it had information, reportedly from Abdul Qadeer Khan, which explained how to form uranium into hemispheres, which can be used in nuclear weaponry.
On 2 September 2007 Iran's president stated that his country had put into operation more than 3,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges, which achieved a key goal in its nuclear program.
On 17 October 2007 President Vladimir Putin claimed that Russia was the sole nation to help Iran with its nuclear program. He also said that those nations which border the Caspian Sea Iran: Azerbaijan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan aught not be used as staging points for an attack on another Caspian nation by a third party.
On 20 October 2007 The UN Security Council added new sanctions against Iran because of its nuclear program.
On 21 October 2007 Ali Larijani resigned before talks with the EU concerning Iran's nuclear activities. President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad appointed the more hard-line Saeed Jalili, as to replace Larijani. There was speculation that Larijani might have been in disagreement with the President over the way to proceed in negotiations.
On 25 October 2007 the United States imposed wide-ranging new sanctions against Iran in a further effort to pressure Tehran to halt nuclear activities seen as weapons-related. Targets of the new sanctions included the Iranian defense ministry and the Revolutionary Guards Corps.
On 15 November 2007 Iran presented the IAEA with a document which showed the procedures on how to create uranium metal balls to form the core of nuclear weapons.
On 4 December 2007 US Intelligence concluded that the Iranians discontinued their nuclear program in 2003 and had not resumed it. The National Intelligence Estimate disclosed that all 16 US intelligence agencies reported that Iran was still enriching uranium and if they restarted the program with the desire to create an atomic bomb, they could produce one by 2010 or 2015.
On 18 December 2007 Russia handed over its first nuclear fuel consignment to the reactor in Bushehr. Russian officials said that while IAEA inspectors were in Iran, the IAEA would control the fuel. On it's part, Iran promised the fuel would be for the power plant only.
On 28 December 2007 the second shipment of nuclear fuel was delivered from Russia to Iran for its Bushehr nuclear power plant.