The Iran Nuke Industry Row
The IAEA experts' visit to Arak is cause for optimism. But no expert predicts an early settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue. It will take a lot of time to find a solution acceptable to all sides, all the more so since Washington at one time included Iran in the "axis of evil." The United States carries a lot of weight in the IAEA, both as a great nuclear power and the source of a quarter of its budget. This is a serious lever that Washington is using to further its own interests. The stubborn discussions with the IAEA brought the Iranian issue to the U.N. Security Council, which was ready to pass a new resolution slapping sanctions on Tehran, but Russia and China intervened on Iran's behalf. Photo courtesy AFP.
Israel Considers Building Nuclear Power Plant
Jerusalem (AFP) Aug 08 - Israel is considering the construction of what would be its first nuclear power plant, a senior official said Friday. "Infrastructure Minister Benjamin Ben Eliezer has been advancing the issue of building a nuclear reactor for producing electricity," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "In view of Israel's low reserves of electricity and energy sources, the forecasts as well as the growing demand, (Ben Eliezer) is examining the idea, which requires the approval of the government," he told AFP. Israel's electricity sector heavily relies on imported coal and oil. Several governmental bodies have been discussing the feasibility of the project, he said. Israel's atomic agency confirmed such talks were underway, although the infrastructure ministry refused to comment. Israel is considered the sole but undeclared nuclear power in the Middle East. Throughout the years it has kept a policy of "ambiguity" over its nuclear capabilities, although it does acknowledge having two nuclear research centres.
by Tatyana Sinitsyna
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Aug 07, 2007
A group of inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency arrived in Iran to visit a heavy-water reactor being built near Arak, in the center of the country. This time, the Iranians are ready to give the IAEA exhaustive answers to questions about their experiments with plutonium and their uranium-enrichment program. This is a real breakthrough in Tehran's long-running dispute with the nuclear watchdog. In the middle of July, Iran announced its readiness to resume contacts with the IAEA. Foreign Ministry spokesman Muhammad Ali Hosseini explained, "Our dialogue with the West on this problem has become more realistic and rational."
Iran-IAEA relations can be likened to nuclear fission and fusion. Both release enormous amounts of energy, which acts as a catalyst for either severing relations or moving toward dialogue.
The IAEA has many grievances against Iran. In late 2003 the IAEA Board of Governors passed a resolution stating Iran concealed its nuclear program from the world for 18 years. This fact called into doubt the civilian nature of the program. The Iranians are out to prove they have been developing peaceful nuclear energy in full compliance with the IAEA charter, but the skeptical nuclear watchdog demands that its experts should see for themselves that Iran's nuclear program is not pursuing any military purposes.
The IAEA suspects Iran of developing nuclear weapons at no fewer than three secret installations. It is also worried about Iran's contacts with a clandestine network that is illegally trading in materials and spare parts for uranium-enrichment centrifuges. The IAEA believes that Iran is hiding them deep underground at some 30 different locations.
Now that the recent Vienna plan has eased tensions between the two sides, the IAEA wants Iran to disclose all the required information about its nuclear program. "Not a single question should remain unanswered," said Olli Heinonen, IAEA deputy director general.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov believes that at this point "it is important to achieve specific results and not to provoke a rupture in the relationship between the IAEA and Iran." He said that once the world is convinced that Iran's nuclear intentions are peaceful, it will step up comprehensive cooperation with Tehran, while the latter will be able to fully take advantage of its right to develop a civilian nuclear energy program.
The IAEA experts' visit to Arak is cause for optimism. But no expert predicts an early settlement of the Iranian nuclear issue. It will take a lot of time to find a solution acceptable to all sides, all the more so since Washington at one time included Iran in the "axis of evil." The United States carries a lot of weight in the IAEA, both as a great nuclear power and the source of a quarter of its budget. This is a serious lever that Washington is using to further its own interests.
The stubborn discussions with the IAEA brought the Iranian issue to the U.N. Security Council, which was ready to pass a new resolution slapping sanctions on Tehran, but Russia and China intervened on Iran's behalf.
The Iranian nuclear saga is turning out to be more of a hassle for Russia, which is building a two-unit nuclear power plant in Bushehr, than for any other country. There seems to be no end in sight for this project -- Iran has been trying to complete it for 30 years now. First, the Germans gave up on an almost finished installation because of Iran's war against Iraq from 1980 to 1988, and now the Russians are dragging it out.
Moscow has lamented more than once that it ever got involved in Bushehr. The project is without technical precedent, and Russian engineers have had to rack their brains trying to integrate the components left behind by Siemens, the German company that started work on the plant, with the Russian VVER-1000 reactor. Political tensions have made it even worse.
Iran was supposed to receive the keys to its first nuclear power plant in October 2007, but the launch has been delayed again, at least for a year. "The Bushehr plant will be assembled and commissioned no sooner than the fall of 2008 -- a year later than promised," said Ivan Istomin, head of Energoprogress, one of the companies involved in the project. He explained this delay by Iran's failure to pay for the project in full.
In turn, Iranian managers are accusing Russia of delaying nuclear fuel supplies. But the technical procedures require that fuel should be loaded into a completed plant six months before its physical commissioning and not a day earlier.
The solution is deceptively simple: Things will only improve if Iran pays the Russian builders and answers the IAEA's well-founded questions. In the meantime, the world can only watch and wait.
Ahmadinejad says Iran defiant over nuclear energy
ALGIERS, Aug 7 (AFP) Aug 07 - Algeria gave its support to Iran on Tuesday in the row over Tehran's nuclear programme, as his guest President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran insisted his country would stand firm on the issue. "Iran cannot talk to countries which do not recognise its right to produce nuclear energy for peaceful means," Ahmadinejad told a news conference on the second and final day of his visit.
He accused Western powers of mobilising all their energy to isolate Iran on this question but underlined Tehran's determination to continue efforts to acquire nuclear energy.
His host President Abdelaziz Bouteflika backed Iran in the row over its nuclear power programme, a day after US President George W. Bush again criticised Tehran over the issue.
Bouteflika said it was unacceptable that the legitimate right of a signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (Iran) to acquire nuclear technology for strictly peaceful means should be blocked.
Algeria itself has since 1995 had two experimental nuclear reactors, both of which are monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Bouteflika called for "generalised disarmament in the matter of arms of massive destruction, the total ban of nuclear tests and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons."
The Middle East should join Africa and Latin America and become a nuclear-free zone, he added.
Israel is considered the sole but undeclared nuclear power in the Middle East. It has maintained a policy of "ambiguity" over its nuclear capabilities, although it does acknowledge having two nuclear research centres.
The statements by the Iranian and Algerian presidents came just a day after Bush again criticised the government in Tehran over the nuclear issue.
"We will continue to work to isolate it because they're not a force for good as far as we can see, they're a destabilizing influence wherever they are," said Bush.
Iran is engaged in a standoff with the UN Security Council over its nuclear programme. The United States has led the accusations that Iran seeks a nuclear bomb and the Security Council has imposed sanctions demanding that Iran suspend its uranium enrichment.
Four International Atomic Energy Agency officials arrived in Iran Monday for talks aimed at agreeing a framework for future inspections of the uranium enrichment plant at Natanz in central Iran.
Iran has repeatedly refused to yield to the pressure despite two sets of UN Security Council sanctions.
In a hard-hitting new broadside against Israel, the Iranian leader also said "the whole of humankind today has been bruised by crimes perpetrated by Zionists in Palestine, in Lebanon, and in the whole world," Algeria's APS news agency reported.
"All those felled as martyrs in the streets of Palestine are our children, all those who are rotting in Israeli jails are our children and our mothers and fathers," he said, while visiting veterans of Algeria's independence war.
"We support all those Palestinians, Lebanese, North African Arabs and people in Africa, Asia and Latin America who today are fighting a battle with the global hegemonists," he added.
Ahmadinejad, who in 2005 made waves by calling for Israel to be "wiped from the map", continued his attacks in a hard-hitting interview published just ahead of his visit.
"Our support (for the Palestinian people) is unconditional. As for the Israelis, let them go find somewhere else (to live)," Ahmadinejad told several Algerian newspapers.
He provoked a storm in June by saying a "countdown" had begun that would end with Lebanese and Palestinian militants destroying Israel.
His government last year hosted a conference on the Holocaust that questioned the reality of the Nazis' genocide of the Jews during World War II.
(Tatyana Sinitsyna is a commentator for RIA Novosti. This article is reprinted by permission of RIA Novosti. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.)
Source: RIA Novosti
Source: Agence France-Presse