Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Nuclear Iran

From Anthony H. Cordesman and Khalid R. Al-Rodhan, Iranian Nuclear Weapons? The Options If Diplomacy Fails (Center for Strategic and International Studies):

In January 1995, Iran signed an $800 million contract with the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy to complete reactors at Bushehr. This included a 1,000 megawatt reactor plant. This was scheduled to finish in 2005, but the revelation in 2002 about Iran’s uranium enrichment facility at Natanz and heavy-water reactor at Arak led to further scrutiny of Iran’s nuclear program. The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, promised the US and the EU3 that Moscow would not provide Iran with the reactor unless it complies with the IAEA safeguards. The concern, however, is that Iran would use the technology and the reactors provided by Russia to advance its “covert” nuclear program.

In spite of the perceived concealment activities by Iran, however, Moscow and Tehran signed a fuel supply deal in early 2005 that paved the way for Bushehr to come online in late 2006.

In June 2005, Russian President, Vladimir Putin said that Russia would continue its nuclear cooperation with Iran’s new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In addition, the head of the Russian Atomic Energy Agency, Alexander Rumyantsev, announced that, “Tehran intends to build another six nuclear reactors,” and that Russia would be willing to help.

Russian engineers continue their work on the Bushehr reactor. The Iranian-Russian negotiations regarding the Bushehr reactor and uranium enrichment continued through the referral of Iran to the UNSC. The US, the EU3, the IAEA, and the UN Secretary General have publicly voiced their backing of the Russian plan, but privately, officials in France, Germany, the UK, and the US have voiced skepticism about the chance of success.

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