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4/11/04 - IRAN’S HEAVY WATER REACTOR - 2004-04-12

In about two months, Iran is planning to start construction of a heavy-water nuclear reactor in the city of Arak. Heavy-water reactors provide the best means of producing plutonium for use in nuclear weapons. Iran has told the International Atomic Energy Agency, the I-A-E-A, that its nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes. But the I-A-E-A has been investigating Iran’s program since March 2003 and has already confirmed numerous clandestine nuclear activities that Iran undertook for more than eighteen years.

Kenneth Brill is the U.S. representative to the I-A-E-A. He says that Iran’s long history of deceit gives plenty of reason to doubt its claims:

“The classic example of why people are concerned about the Iran nuclear program is the Kalaye Electric Company plant which was originally portrayed by the most senior Iranian officials as a simple watch factory or a simple warehouse, and over time its true use and purpose was conveyed to the I-A-E-A. It was a place where centrifuge experiments had been done.”

Centrifuges can be used to make nuclear-weapons-grade uranium. And this is just one of many deceptions and broken promises by Iran concerning its nuclear program. Adam Ereli is the deputy spokesman for U.S. State Department:

“On October 21st, Iran told the foreign ministers of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom that it would, quote, ‘suspend all enrichment -- uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities as defined by the I-A-E-A,’ end quote. Then they later went on and said, ‘Okay, but that doesn’t include domestic manufacture and assembly of centrifuges.’ Then again, on November 10th, Iran sent a letter to the I-A-E-A saying that it had decided to suspend, quote, ‘all [uranium] enrichment-related reprocessing activities in Iran.’ Then, again, on February 23rd, it [Iran] said it would suspend assembly and testing of centrifuges. So we’ve heard this before.”

Mr. Ereli said it would be “great” if Iran would live up to its promises to the I-A-E-A. But so far, Iran has not done so. The I-A-E-A board meets again in June. High on the agenda will be the question of whether Iran is meeting its promises to the I-A-E-A and its obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. If the I-A-E-A finds that Iran is not doing so, its noncompliance could be reported to the United Nations Security Council.