Thursday, October 4, 2007

Iran’s Nuclear Impasse: An Update

EU will debate on 15 October whether to impose its own set of new sanctions against Iran over the country’s nuclear program. France and Britain are pushing for heavier sanctions held up at UN Security Council until November. Germany and Italy have voiced reservations about such action prior to November when IAEA chief Mohammad ElBaradei is scheduled to deliver an all-important report on Iran’s nuclear research and weaponization.

Meanwhile today the Iranian president announced in Tehran that Iran has overcome difficulties in its nuclear path and no one could now stop it. Reports from Tehran also indicate that Iran has indeed installed 18 cascades, the equivalent of just under 3,000 centrifuge machines. This is the threshold of enriching uranium at industrial scale.

Yesterday, IAEA chief Mohammad ElBaradei warned Iran that it must soon provide key details on its nuclear research capabilities and its nuclear weaponization capacity. ElBaradei said that he has told the Iranians that, “This is your litmus test. You committed yourself to come clean. If you don't, nobody will be able to come to your support.” (AFP, 3 September). Elbaradei must present his report to IAEA board on 22 November.

Iran has agreed to answer questions regarding the Green Salt project. As already reported in this blog, the US has provided IAEA information contained in a laptop computer about a secret Iranian nuclear program, dubbed “Green Salt”. The laptop was obtained by the US intelligence and the information in it reportedly covers underground nuclear testing, development of missiles with nuclear warhead and production of highly enriched uranium used in an atomic bomb. The segment on “nuclear weapanization” program in Elbaradei’s report would deal with questions surrounding the Green Salt project

If the Iranians fail to adhere to the timetable and do not release the information to IAEA by 22 November, ElBaradei said, the whole process will “backfire in their face.”

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