British Foreign Secretary: Iran's nuclear ambitions raise reasonable concerns

British Foreign Secretary: Iran's nuclear ambitions raise reasonable concerns

Azerbaijan, Baku, July 14 /Trend/

Iran's announcement to triple the production of uranium enriched to 20 percent raise reasonable concerns about the peaceful nature of its nuclear program due to a number of technical reasons, British Foreign & Commonwealth Secretary William Hague believes.

"Inside Iran, this announcement by a discredited regime drew little comment and was quickly overshadowed by the domestic political theatre of the latest high-profile tussles between Supreme Leader Khameni and President Ahmadinjedad," Hague wrote in his article sent Trend by the British Embassy in Baku. "But it was an important statement because it makes even clearer that Iran's programme is not designed for purely peaceful purposes."

On 8 June, the Head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, Fereydoun Abbasi Davani announced plans to triple Iran's capacity to produce 20 percent enriched uranium, transferring enrichment from Natanz to the Fordo plant.

According to Hague, the only civilian nuclear power station and all of those Iran is seeking to build need uranium enriched to about 3.5 percent for fuel.

"So plans to enrich any further rightly prompt questions," he said.

The first (and only so far) Iranian nuclear power station was built in at Bushehr, 1200 kilometers southwest of Tehran but Iran reportedly plans to build up to 15 nuclear power plants by 2030.

Hague underlined that uranium enriched to up to 20 percent does have some civilian uses but not in the civilian nuclear power stations that Iran claims to desire.

"Predominantly it is used as fuel for research reactors, producing among other things isotopes for medical use. These are very efficient: one research reactor in Belgium is capable of producing almost all the medical isotopes needed across the whole of Western Europe," he told. "Iran has one research reactor [Tehran Research Reactor]. The plans announced by Mr Davani would provide more than four times its annual fuel requirements."

Hague noted that this reactor is already capable of producing enough radioisotopes for up to 1 million medical investigations per year - already comparable to the UK and much more than Iran needs.

"The plan would also require diverting at least half of Iran's current annual output of 3.5 percent enriched uranium, and so deny it to Iran's nuclear power stations. If Iran is serious about developing civil nuclear energy, why divert limited materials and resources away from the civil energy programme in this way, while spurning offers from the outside world, including the E3+3 countries of the UK, China, France, Germany, Russia and the US, of technological assistance for Iran's peaceful use of nuclear energy?" he told.

On October 1, 2009, the so-called Vienna Group consisting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), France, Russia and the U.S. proposed a deal, according to which Iran would send 3.5-percent-enriched uranium and receive 20-percent-enriched uranium from potential suppliers in return, all through the UN nuclear watchdog agency.

The proposal was first introduced after Iran announced to the IAEA in 2009 that it had run out of nuclear fuel for its research reactor in Tehran.

The proposal was made during the high-level talks between Iranian representatives and diplomats from the E3+3 in Geneva.

The Islamic Republic initially endorsed the idea, but then began to attach conditions and make amendments. In particular, Tehran has refused to immediately give the IAEA all its low-enriched uranium, which deprived the meaning of the proposal of the West.

Later, on May 17, 2010 Iran has signed an agreement to send uranium abroad for enrichment after mediation talks in Tehran with Turkish and Brazilian leaders. Under the deal Iran was ready to ship 1,200kg (2,645lb) of low-enriched uranium to Turkey, in return for fuel for a research reactor.

Hague believes there is one clear purpose for this enriched uranium.

"Enrichment from natural uranium to 20 percent is the most time consuming and resource-intensive step in making the highly enriched uranium required for a nuclear weapon," he told. "And when enough 20 percent enriched uranium is accumulated at the underground facility at Qom, it would take only two or three months of additional work to convert this into weapons grade material. There would remain technical challenges to actually producing a bomb, but Iran would be a significant step closer."

Hague added that Iran's intensified uranium enrichment is envisaged to take place at a previously covert site, buried deep beneath the mountains that it claims to allow IAEA monitoring is not a safeguard at the current time.

"Iran has a persistent record of evasion and obfuscation with the IAEA," he told. "It has failed to provide the IAEA with access to relevant locations, equipment, persons or documents. It has not replied to questions from the IAEA on its procurement of nuclear related items and aspects of its work that could only be useful for developing a nuclear weapon - such as multipoint detonation for the initiation of hemispherical explosive charges - or in plain English, detonators for an atom bomb."

In September, 2009, Iran revealed the existence of the Fordo enrichment facility, which is being built about 30 kilometers north of Qom. The facility is believed to be on a mountain on a former Iranian Revolutionary Guards missile site to the north-east of Qom on the Qom-Aliabad highway.

Iran said it began the project in 2007 but the IAEA believes design work started there in 2006.

Moreover, Hague noted, Iran has an active ballistic missile programme, including the development of missiles with a range of over a thousand kilometres and carried out a range of missile tests in June.

"A reasonable observer cannot help but join the dots," he said.

Five Shahab missiles, including four medium-range and one long-range, were successfully launched by Iran as part of the Great Prophet-6 military exercises in late June.

On July 9, Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh announced that February this year, Iran has made the launch of two ballistic missiles of long radius at 1,900 kilometers from the city of Semnan to the Indian Ocean.

According to Mehr News Agency, Iran managed to produce missiles hitting the target at a distance of 3,000 km that can fly up to Israel and Eastern European countries but Teheran insists that the missiles produced by it serve the security of the country and the region.

Hague said Iran's nuclear programme could lead to a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, already the world's most volatile region.

"It would be both naïve and a derogation of duty to give them - once again - the benefit of the doubt," he told. "This is why there are already six United Nations Security Council Resolutions that require Iran to suspend enrichment immediately, all ignored by Iran."

Iran has repeatedly stated that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes of providing energy, but many other countries contend that it is seeking to develop nuclear weapons and in June, 2010 the Security Council imposed a fourth round of sanctions against it, citing the proliferation risks of its nuclear programme and its continued failure to cooperate with the IAEA.

The issue has been of international concern since the discovery in 2003 that Iran had concealed its nuclear activities for 18 years in breach of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Hague added that Iran has so far refused to enter into any negotiations on its nuclear programme until the E3+3 agreed to lift all sanctions and immediately recognise Iran's right to enrich.

"But there will remain no rationale for lifting sanctions until Iran engages in negotiations to address what are well founded concerns about its nuclear programme. So far, Iran has done the opposite," he wrote.

Hague believes that the latest revelation demonstrates the urgency of increasing pressure.

"The UK is prepared to take action: I have already agreed a further 100 designations to add to EU sanctions last month, and last week announced additional travel bans against known proliferators. Iran may hope that the unprecedented changes of the Arab Spring will distract the world from its nuclear programme. We are determined that it shall not," he concluded.

Europe has right conditions for "safe reopening" of tourism in summer - EU Commissioner
Europe has right conditions for "safe reopening" of tourism in summer - EU Commissioner
Georgian Adjara creating new platform for tourism development
Georgian Adjara creating new platform for tourism development
Azerbaijan eyes to launch WeChat payment solution
Azerbaijan eyes to launch WeChat payment solution
Loading Bars
Azerbaijan expected to approve another int'l document on migration issues
Iran government increases pensions
Retail trade indicators up in Kazakhstan
Physical volume of Kazakhstan’s GDP down in 1Q2021
Turkmenistan, Iran talk over increasing sea transportation in Caspian Sea
Ministry talks social benefits paid out to population in Azerbaijan since early 2021
GDP per capita increases in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan discloses amount of trade surplus for 1Q2021
Azerbaijan creating industrial clusters to develop metallurgical industry
Facilities to be put into operation at Iran's Ilam Airport
Fitch Ratings shares forecast for Azerbaijan's 2021-2022 external public debt
Baku Higher Oil School hosts webinar ‘Women in Engineering: Challenges and Opportunities’ (PHOTO)
Batumi International Airport of Georgia receives first passenger flight after reconstruction
Azerbaijan's Azerishig to purchase metal structures
Russia reports 8,554 COVID-19 cases over the past day
New type power units at Uzbekistan’s Turakurgan TPP to increase electricity production
UAE airlines Etihad, flydubai cancel Tel Aviv flights
Kazakhstan's int'l reserves grow
Georgia introduces new requirements for registration of trucks, buses, and minibusses
Third oil loading berth for Turkmenistan’s Turkmenbashi oil refinery under construction
Monument to famous Azerbaijani singer to be soon installed in Baku (Exclusive) (PHOTO)
Value of coupon payments to investors in Azerbaijan soars - National Depositary Center
Uzbekistan reveals companies interested in construction of solar power plant in Surkhandarya region
Carbon neutrality in 2045 requires managing increasing quantities of decarbonized biogas
UK to make final lockdown easing decision on June 14
French company eyes to co-op with Uzbekistan in using new technologies in agriculture
Bollywood: Big B buys oxygen concentrators, donates ventilators
Germany to finance implementation of projects in Uzbekistan in several areas
Direct delivery of Uzbek export goods to Pakistan implemented through Afghanistan
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan eye increasing trade turnover
Airport in Uzbekistan opens tender for supply of towbar
Cargo movements in Iran’s Chabahar port down
Uzbek finance ministry becomes sole shareholder of Uzbekistan Railways
Uzbekistan eyes attracting Japanese companies for joint production of branded footwear
Airport in Uzbekistan to buy spares for vehicles via tender
Azerbaijan enhancing information security of banks
Weekly review of Turkmenistan’s exchange
Iran’s CBI discloses amount of currency sold at NIMA exchange rate
One of violators of Azerbaijan's state border arrested - Prosecutor General’s Office
Munitions found in Azerbaijan's Khojavand district
Tesla crash victim lauded 'full self-driving' in videos on Tiktok
Central Bank of Azerbaijan unveils volume of lending to government agencies
Azerbaijan sees increase in gold price
Azerbaijani cotton processing plant undergoing reconstruction
ACG oil transshipment from Ceyhan terminal exceeds 75 mb YTD
Azerbaijan demonstrates high growth rates in mobile infrastructure dev't - GSMA Association
Second Sputnik V shipment delivered in India
Israeli, Palestinian delegates to attend UN Security Council’s meeting on May 16
Kazakhstan increases imports of Switzerland-made goods
Georgian Nadi Group Ltd snail farm increases production
Georgia researching manufacturing of airplane parts and repair services
Georgian Dzuguri company to resume production of mineral water
Austria's 4M2021 import value of Turkish grains grows
Azerbaijan boosts import of Turkish-made chemicals
Uzbekistan, Dominica establish diplomatic relations
Turkey sees increase in exports of electrical goods to Georgia
Azerbaijani currency rates for May 16
U.S. fuel crisis eases as pipeline returns to normal after hack
Turkey sees increase in clothes exports to Germany
Iran to pass new water law bill
Uzbekistan reveals COVID-19 data for May 16
Iran to revive thousands of stagnant industrial units
Walmart to buy Israeli virtual fitting room co Zeekit
Azerbaijani Armed Forces begin training exercises
Iran increases wheat purchase guarantee rate
Volume of loans issued to Azerbaijan's public organizations decrease
Iran-Switzerland trade depends on JCPOA talks- official
Razi Co. among top three Iranian insurance companies - CEO
OPEN NET internet project to continue in Georgia - PM
It is Armenia that violates internationally recognized borders of Azerbaijan - MFA
Azerbaijan's 4M2021 inflation rate disclosed
Britain to treble tree planting by 2024 to fight climate change
Switzerland sees potential in strengthening co-op with Azerbaijan in energy field
Argentina's COVID-19 death toll exceeds 70,000
Israel hits Hamas politburo leader’s house in Gaza
Turkey registers 11,472 new COVID-19 cases
SpaceX launches rocket with 54 satellites
Brazil reports 2,087 more COVID-19 deaths
France hits target of 20 mln first COVID-19 vaccinations: PM
Air raid sirens go off, explosions heard in Tel Aviv
9 missing in Indonesia's boat accident
IS claims responsibility for Kabul mosque attack
More than 677,000 COVID-19 infections detected worldwide over past 24 hours
Chamber of Commerce hopes Iran's trade to improve as COVID-19 spread declines
Iran to hold conference on electrical engineering
Weekly review of Azerbaijani oil market
Uzbekistan to restore air communication with Saudi Arabia
Georgian Parliament Speaker to pay official visit to Brussels
Britain reports 2,027 new COVID-19 cases, seven deaths
Emergency session of OIC to be held on May 16 at Turkey’s initiative, Ankara says
Turkey aims to create electric vehicle market
Uzbekistan imported more than 200 million liters of gasoline in Jan-Apr 2021
Iranian, Spanish FMs exchange views on economic, trade coop.
Kazakh, Polish, Ukrainian and Arabian airlines to resume flights to Batumi
All international airlines halt air service with Israel
IDF confirms its strike on Gaza building after advance warning to civilians
Azerbaijani and Tajik FMs discuss situation on Azerbaijani-Armenian border
Fitch Ratings forecasts inflation rate in Azerbaijan for 2021-22
Nordwind launches direct flights from St. Petersburg to Baku from May 18
US ambassador to Azerbaijan, USAID director meet with Azerbaijani MP
All news