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5/13/03 - IRAN’S PURSUIT OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS - 2003-05-15

There are serious concerns about Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability, along with other weapons of mass destruction and longer-range missiles. As U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher made clear, Iran’s claim that its nuclear program is transparent and intended for peaceful purposes contradicts known facts: “Iran admitted to constructing a. . .uranium enrichment plant and heavy water plant only after it had no choice because this had been made public. . . . The first uranium enrichment plant could be used to produce highly enriched uranium for weapons. A heavy water plant could support a reactor for producing weapons-grade plutonium.”

“There is no economic justification for a state that’s rich in oil and gas like Iran to build hugely expensive nuclear fuel cycle facilities,” said Mr. Boucher:

“Iran flares off more gas annually than the equivalent energy its desired reactors would produce. States with peaceful nuclear energy programs have nothing to hide, and Iran did its best to hide all these nuclear fuel cycle activities.”

The International Atomic Energy Agency is conducting an examination of Iran’s nuclear program, including facilities that Iran had tried to hide.

Russia is continuing to help Iran build a nuclear reactor at Bushehr. In the U.S. view, said State Department spokesman Boucher, “no country should be cooperating with Iran’s nuclear program”:

“Our concern is about the potential acquisition of nuclear weapons by a state that’s a known supporter of terrorism. This has been something that the President [Bush] has talked about. That’s why he talked about the ‘axis of evil.’ ”

This is a major issue that faces the world, and it’s an issue in which the United States will still lead.