Iran to come up with new nuclear developments by April, says VP

Iran Materials 25 February 2009 19:05 (UTC +04:00)

Iran will come up with new nuclear developments by the beginning of April this year, Iranian Vice-President Gholam-Reza Aqazadeh said Wednesday, indicating a probable increase of the number of centrifuges, dpa reported.

"We will have good nuclear news again on April 9," said Aqazadeh, also head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, in a news conference in Bushehr, southern Iran.

The term "good nuclear news" has so far been used by Iran for announcing the increase of centrifuges in the Natanz plant in central Iran. Observers believe that in April the number would rise from the current 6,000 to 10,000 centrifuges.

Aqazadeh said 6,000 centrifuges were currently operating in Natanz, and Iran plans to gradually increase them until the final aim of 50,000 centrifuges, sufficient for the country to produce its own nuclear fuel, is reached.

"Even if we reach the level of 10,000 centrifuges, it will take us five years until the final aim (50,000 centrifuges) is reached," Aqazadeh said, adding that the government has set the five years as the time-table to finish the task.

According to Aqazadeh, the technology of the centrifuges might be upgraded within the coming years, indicating that the P-1 devices might gradually be replaced with the faster P-2 models.

He said that besides the joint project with Russia in Bushehr, Iran has already concluded the initial phase of locally made 360- megawatt light-water nuclear reactor IR360 in Darkhowayn in south- western Iran.

"We need our own fuel for the Darkhowayn plant which must be provided by (the uranium enrichment plant of) Natanz and any delay in Natanz would mean delay in finishing Darkhowayn," the vice-president said.

Aqazadeh rejected any connection between Iran's technical time- table with the talks between Tehran and the five permanent if United Nations Security Council member states plus Germany.

"Those talks are political and we (Iran's Atomic Energy Organization) have to take care of the technical aspects," he said.

"All our nuclear programmes are solely for civil and peaceful purposes and the West is just taking the alleged secret military programme as a pretext for a futile political game as it is already an irrevocable fact that Iran has gained the nuclear know-how," Aqazadeh added.

Iran says that as signatory of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it has the legitimate right to pursue nuclear projects, including the controversial uranium enrichment programme.

The West however fears that Iran would use the same enrichment technology - at a higher level though - to make nuclear weapons and use them against its' arch-enemy Israel.

The Iranian refusal to follow three UN Security Council resolutions demanding uranium enrichment suspension has already led to sanctions against the Islamic state.

Tehran is however willing to cooperate with the West, even the US, in its nuclear projects, including the disputed enrichment process, but says that its' right for nuclear technology should be internationally acknowledged.

IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei said last month that opening a "direct dialogue" by the US with Iran could lead to a "freeze for freeze" compromise - Iran stopping expansion of uranium enrichment and the 5+1 expansion of UN sanctions - adding that the West should engage rather than isolate Iran.