Mohammad Saeedi, deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, greets Russia’s Energy Agency head Alexander Rumyantsev (photo: Aljazeera.com)
Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency it will resume nuclear enrichment work in defiance of the United States and European Union, which believe Tehran wants to build bombs.
Mohammad Saeedi, deputy head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, made the announcement today as Iran’s Foreign Ministry hinted that Tehran planned to reject a compromise proposal by Moscow to enrich uranium in Russia, under Russian control.
“Within the next few days we will start researching that field in cooperation and coordination with the IAEA,” Saeedi said on Iran’s state television.
The developments increase the likelihood Iran’s case will be referred to the U.N. Security Council at its March 6 meeting.
Iran insists it intends only to enrich uranium to a relatively low grade needed for civilian purposes.
But Israel has warned it will strike Iran’s nuclear facilities if Tehran begins enriching uranium at its Natanz plant. And last week, a German magazine reported new developments that indicate the U.S. has gone from acknowledging the possibility of action against Tehran’s suspected clandestine nuclear weapons program to preparing its allies for a strike.
According to Der Spiegel, reports of a pending strike escalated following Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s recent statements that Israel should be wiped off the map and his calls for Israelis to be relocated to Europe.
Jerome Corsi, author of “Atomic Iran,” says that once Iran masters uranium enrichment at Natanz, it could try to develop weapons-grade uranium secretly.
“The Iranian pattern of documented deception with their nuclear program gave Israel no confidence that Iranian protestations of innocence can be trusted,” Corsi said, “especially not when Ahmadinejad insists on continuing with his stream of anti-Israel rhetoric.”
Saeedi said actual enrichment of uranium at the unfinished Natanz facility would not be resumed for now.
“That will be a separate issue on which no decision has yet been made,” he said, according to Reuters.
In 2003, the IAEA discovered Iran had been conducting clandestine nuclear research since the 1980s, including enrichment tests.
Under negotiations with the United States and the EU trio of Britain, Germany and France, Iran suspended atomic fuel research and all uranium processing and enrichment.
In August, however, Tehran restarted its uranium-conversion plant at Isfahan, prompting negotiations to be shut down. Talks resumed in December, and meetings are scheduled for this month.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said Russia’s proposal would be acceptable only if it is “complementary or parallel” to Tehran’s own uranium enrichment in Iran.
A Russian delegation is expected to arrive in Tehran Jan. 7.
“We are waiting for the Russians to come to Iran before deciding whether to reject it or not, or to accept something in between,” Asefi said. “Let them bring their proposal and later we’ll see if it is acceptable or not.”
Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin reported last month Russia has signed a deal with Iran to sell 29 of its Tor M-1 anti-missile systems, a development that will complicate any planned pre-emptive attack.
The system theoretically would permit Iran to intercept some cruise missiles as well as airborne missiles that U.S., Israeli or other western countries might use in an effort to keep the terrorist-supporting nation from developing nuclear weapons or using them.