Worldwise | Detroit | March 2
The US continues it’s pressure on Iran, assisted by calls for transparency from the international community. Iran’s recent admission that it had been bartering with A. Q. Khan for acquisition of nuclear technologies left themselves wide open to the familiar US line that the IAEA couldn’t be trusted to know the value of their own inspections. Then, when Iran refused to let the IAEA return to the Parchin military facility -Washington asserts Tehran is simulating atomic weapons tests there- US ambassador at the IAEA, Jackie Sanders, took the cue saying, “The IAEA is still not able to provide assurances that Iran is not pursuing clandestine activities at undeclared locations.” ElBaradei said the ball was in Iran’s court “through absolute transparency measures and co-operation with the [IAEA]” to dispel any doubt of it’s intentions.
This was following a IAEA staff report detailing verification activities in Iran. IAEA Director General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei highlighted in a press briefing what he called two important features of the investigations; contamination and the enrichment program. The US continued it’s full court press on the agency today accusing the IAEA of failing its “statutory obligation” to report Iranian breaches of the NPT to the U.N. Security Council. Clearly the threat of sanctions is being applied to Iran via implications upon ElBaradei whom the US has quietly pushed to be sacked.
ElBaradei had said there had been no evidence for six months that supported claims Iran secretly works toward building a nuclear bomb. The recent IAEA report doesn’t contradict this because it was primarily based around documents dating back to 1987. It does show a long term commitment by Iran to pursue nuclear technology, but referring back to ElBaradei’s second main concern -the enrichment program- Iran has never shown it has the ability to produce the full nuclear cycle required for bomb production.
Amid US scoffs, Iran has insisted it needs the ability to produce power through nuclear generation. At first thought it seems unlikely Iran would need to do this given the oil and natural gas reserves it sits on. But some are saying it makes more sense than the Bush administration is giving credit for the idea. Reuters reports today:
- The Foreign Affairs Select Committee of Britain’s parliament said last March that based on a study it commissioned: “It is clear … that the arguments as to whether Iran has a genuine requirement for domestically produced nuclear electricity are not all, or even predominantly, on one side.”
Some U.S. arguments against Iran “were not supported by an analysis of the facts” the committee added, noting that much of the natural gas flared off by Iran — which U.S. officials say could be harnessed instead of nuclear power — was not recoverable for energy use.
The article lays out fairly well the arguments for why it makes some sense for Iran to want to produce power with nuclear generation. Back when the Shah was in power the US was saying the same thing. But this is a long way from making a nuclear bomb, and although it’s a step closer Iran still needs to be able to enrich and then mold uranium metal, a very complicated and difficult task.
Alexander Rumyantsev, head of Russia’s Atomic Energy Agency, said on Monday, “There is technically proven data, which shows the creation of a full cycle for a country with less than eight to 10 reactors worth 1,000 megawatts each, is not feasible and in fact ruinous. We keep telling this to the Iranians.”
Of course there are many points of view on the matter. This is something you don’t hear everyday; Attacking Iran: I Know It Sounds Crazy, But…. It’s written by long time veteran, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern. During the early 1980s, he took part in writing the now infamous PDB’s and “briefed it one-on-one to the president’s most senior advisers” through the years. Ray was also skeptical, very skeptical, of Powell’s presentation to the UN before the Iraq war.