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September 10, 09

NEWS / U.S. Raises New Concerns about Irans Bomb-Making Program

By Merle David Kellerhals Jr.
Staff Writer

Washington — Iran now may have enough enriched nuclear fuel to make a nuclear bomb, a senior U.S. diplomat said September 9 before the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna.

“We have serious concerns that Iran is deliberately attempting, at a minimum, to preserve a nuclear weapons option,” U.S. Ambassador Glyn Davies said. “This ongoing enrichment activity … moves Iran closer to a dangerous and destabilizing possible breakout capacity.”

A new report by IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei describes how Iran has at least 1,430 kilograms of low-enriched uranium hexafluoride, a critical ingredient in nuclear bomb making that can be further enriched to weapons-grade material, Davies said.

“Iran is now either very near or in possession already of sufficient low-enriched uranium to produce one nuclear weapon,” the ambassador said. “Iran has missed an opportunity to address the concerns of the international community with respect to its nuclear program.”

ElBaradei told the IAEA board of governors meeting that Iran has not suspended its enrichment activities or its work on heavy-water-related projects — suspensions which are required by the U.N. Security Council.

“Iran has not cooperated with the agency in connection with the remaining issues … which need to be clarified in order to exclude the possibility of there being military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program,” ElBaradei said in his report to the governing board. The 35-member IAEA board of governors is meeting September 7–11 at Vienna’s International Center.

Davies said the United States has joined with the other permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — Britain, China, France and Russia — and Germany in seeking to negotiate with Iranian leaders “based on mutual interests and mutual respect, without preconditions.”

“The United States and our … partners have made a good-faith effort to reach out to Iran and find a diplomatic resolution to this issue,” he added. While Iran has reportedly offered to negotiate, no substantive, official response has been received, he said.

“Nonetheless, we would review any proposal seriously,” Davies said.

The IAEA previously reported that Iran has more than 8,000 centrifuges, which are machines designed to enrich uranium, at its main facility at Natanz. Reportedly, Iran was using about half of the machines to enrich uranium.

“The pathway to a negotiated solution remains on the table for Iran, and we continue to call on Iran’s leaders to demonstrate genuine commitment to peace and security in the Middle East and to the international nonproliferation regime,” Davies said. “We have made clear that we do not dispute Iran’s right to a civilian nuclear program, but with that right comes the responsibility to restore confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran’s activities and program.”




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