1. Iran Will Be an Exporter of Nuclear Fuel ï¿½ Ahmadinejad
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Iran is firmly determined to be an exporter of nuclear fuel, local news agencies report President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying on Friday in the course of his working visit to Isfahan province.
ï¿½We shall by no means suspend the operation of our centrifuges (to enrich uranium at the Natanz Nuclear Centre, located in that province ï¿½ Itar-Tass), but shall go on perfecting our nuclear fuel cycle in order to turn the country into an exporter of fuel for nuclear power plants,ï¿½ the president stated. ï¿½Iran will not budge a step from its inalienable rights in the nuclear domain,ï¿½ he warned.
The Iranian president compared his countryï¿½s progress in nuclear research with the ï¿½movement of a train, which has no reverse gear or brakes, but whose helm is in the hands of fair people.ï¿½
Touching on the U.N. Security Council resolutions to clamp down sanctions on Iran, Ahmadinejad noted: ï¿½They were adopted under the pressure of the states that are adhering to the positions of strength policy and are, therefore, bound to be ineffective.ï¿½ ï¿½These sanctions will be more harmful for their initiators than for us, and will not yield any results,ï¿½ he believes.
ï¿½Those who oppose the Iranian nationï¿½s progress towards the mastering of peaceful nuclear technologies, should realize that the obstacles they are putting up to this progress are futile, and that Iran will never suspend this work,ï¿½ the Iranian president stressed. In his opinion, the great powers are convinced that the mastering of nuclear technologies by the Islamic Republic will inevitably lead to their downfall. ï¿½This does not mean that Iran will develop an atomic bomb, but the gust of the Iranian nationï¿½s victory on the political arena will work notable changes and will lead to their disappearance, they believeï¿½ Ahmadinejad added.
ï¿½After the resumption of Iranian nuclear research (after a two-year moratorium) they (the great powers) have again demanded that we should suspend the implementation of our nuclear program and have offered to provide us with nuclear fuel. We stated in reply that we ourselves were ready to sell nuclear fuel to them at a much lower price, but they, in turn, should arrest their nuclear fuel cycle,ï¿½ the Iranian president stressed.
Ahmadinejadï¿½s declared refusal to stop the national nuclear program confirms the main arguments of the IAEA report, which was published on Tuesday.
The document, forwarded to the Chairman of the U.N. Security Council for distribution among its members, notes that Iran had not suspended its work, linked with Iranian enrichment, and, on the contrary, has stepped up its efforts at Natanz in defiance of the Security Council calls. The document also says that ï¿½the level of control over the Iranian atomic program had declined due to the obstacles, which Iran is putting up to the work of IAEA inspectors.ï¿½
Tehran denied, right after the publication of the report, all the IAEA accusations that it was interfering with the inspection of installations, linked with the Iranian nuclear program.
1. Moscow Says Nuclear Ties With Iran to Continue Despite Sanctions
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Russia's nuclear chief said Friday possible new sanctions against Tehran over its controversial nuclear program will not affect Russian-Iranian cooperation in the nuclear sphere.
Since Iran resumed uranium enrichment in January 2006, the country has been the focus of international concerns, as some Western countries, particularly the U.S., suspect Tehran is pursuing a covert weapons program. But Tehran has consistently claimed it needs nuclear power for civilian power generation and is fully entitled to its own nuclear program.
"The cooperation we currently enjoy has nothing to do with the UN Security Council's requirements," Sergei Kiriyenko said.
He said the construction of the nuclear power plant in Bushehr in the south of Iran does not in any way violate the non-proliferation regime and is not a political but a purely commercial project.
On Wednesday, Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), presented a report that said Iran has continued to ignore the demands of the UN Security Council to halt its uranium enrichment and has continued working on nuclear projects.
The report could trigger a new wave of sanctions against Iran, which will be the third since penalties were first introduced against it in December 2006.
A senior Russian MP said sanctions against Iran are only possible if there is conclusive evidence that it pursues a military nuclear program, but even then they must not involve the use of force.
"Any decisions [with respect to Iran] will only be possible after experts study the [ElBaradei] report," said Konstantin Kosachev, chairman of the State Duma International Affairs Committee.
The Iranian president said earlier Friday Tehran will not yield to international pressure and abandon its right to pursue peaceful nuclear technology, adding that UN sanctions against Iran "have brought no result."
"There is no doubt that these sanctions will boomerang on the arrogant powers, as we will soon be able to see," Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said.
He said Tehran will ignore any new resolutions against it that the UN Security Council may pass in the future.
On April 19, Ahmadinejad said that Iran had mastered industrial-scale production of nuclear fuel, giving up a research-level program. Recent reports said Tehran was already running 1,600 uranium enrichment centrifuges in its Natanz underground complex.
1. Setback for Warheads Policy: House Panel Says It Won't Fund New Nuclear Weapons
San Francisco Chronicle
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In a surprising rejection of the Bush administration's nuclear weapons policy, a House appropriations subcommittee said Wednesday that it would refuse to fund a program to manufacture new warheads designed by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
The announcement by the subcommittee marks just the first step in a long legislative process that could still keep the new weapons program alive, but it provided a stark indication of deep resistance to the policy in Congress.
"This is a reflection of the concern that many of us have about the posturing of the administration" regarding its nuclear weapons policy, said Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Walnut Creek.
Tauscher is chairwoman of the Strategic Forces Subcommittee, which has supported providing a low level of funding for the new program, but only after the creation of a commission that would examine the country's nuclear weapons needs into the future.
The Livermore weapons lab won the initial competition to design the new warhead earlier this year, and officials had said the lab was preparing to move ahead with more detailed design work. A lab spokesman said Wednesday that Livermore is not giving up hope yet and will work with Congress to obtain the needed funding.
"There will be at least four committees with recommendations on this subject, and we will work with all of them," said lab spokesman David Schwoegler.
For several years, the Bush administration has received a low level of funding to do the initial design work on what is being called the Reliable Replacement Warhead program, or RRW.
The administration has argued that the current weapons stockpile, developed during the Cold War, is aging and should be replaced over time with weapons that are safer and more reliable. Opponents of the program have argued that the current weapons will last for decades, and that the country ought to be slowly reducing the stockpile to fight weapons proliferation.
The administration was seeking a little more than $100 million in funding for the program next year. But the chairman of the House energy and water appropriations subcommittee, Rep. Pete Visclosky, D-Ind., issued a harsh rebuke, saying he will fight any funding until the administration offers a clear strategy justifying the need for new weapons.
"Until progress is made on this critical issue, there will be no new facilities or a Reliable Replacement Warhead," Visclosky said. "Only when a future nuclear weapons strategy is established can the Department of Energy determine the requirements for the future nuclear weapons stockpile and nuclear weapons complex plan."
Experts described the action as a sign that the program is in real trouble.
"This represents the most significant repudiation of the administration's plan," said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association, which supports reducing the size of the stockpile. "This may mark the beginning of the end of the plan to build a new generation of nuclear weapons."
The plan's supporters made it clear that the battle will now just move to the full House and then the Senate.
"It is still early in the congressional process, and this is just one of several committees we work with," said Bryan Wilkes, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the weapons complex.
Tauscher said the key at this point will be what level of funding the Senate provides, if any, which would then require a compromise with the House.
The U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee approved $50 million of limited, matching funds for an international nuclear fuel center.
The move Wednesday comes amid tensions over Iran's uranium-enrichment programs, the expected boom in nuclear power plant construction and efforts to keep uranium in civilian, not military programs.
"Those who truly seek to develop nuclear power solely for peaceful means will jump at the chance to take part in this fuel bank," said Rep. Tom Lantos, D-Calif., chairman of the committee and co-sponsor of the bill. "It provides an opportunity to ensure a stable supply of nuclear fuel from an internationally supported nuclear facility located in a safe nation. This initiative will put to the test the claims of countries such as Iran that they are not working to build nuclear weapons, but want simply to generate power for civilian purposes."
The $50 million matches the same amount offered by the Nuclear Threat Initiative. It will be used to set up an International Atomic Energy Agency-supervised facility that will process uranium to nuclear plant grade. Countries interested in fueling their reactors and compliant with international treaties would have access to it.
The money is available for two years and requires an additional $50 million match, according to a committee release.
This would be a fiscal deterrent for countries that want nuclear power to opt out of setting up their own fueling system. Iran has done such a thing and is accused of having intentions of building a bomb, which it denies. It has been sanctioned by the United Nations. Iran says it has the sovereign right to develop its own fuel, since it has signed on to international treaties -- though its secrecy has clouded its compliance.
1. US, Indian Experts Make Little Progress on N-deal
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US and Indian technical experts made little progress when they met in London this week in another attempt to work through persistent serious differences over a nuclear cooperation agreement, a US official said on Tuesday.
The official, who declined to be identified, told Reuters he had not received a full report on the talks but ï¿½there was not a lot of progressï¿½ when negotiators met on Monday. The much-heralded agreement would give India access to US nuclear fuel and reactors for the first time in 30 years, even though New Delhi tested nuclear weapons and never signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
On May 1, the two countries claimed extensive progress during two days of talks in Washington aimed at salvaging their landmark deal, and Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, the chief US negotiator, said he would ï¿½visit India in the second half of May to reach closure.ï¿½ But last week Burns postponed his trip, and the decision was made to send technical experts to London to continue working on the issues. The deal is the touchstone of new US-India relationship that Washington envisions as a pillar of 21st century international security, but its history has been rocky. Obstacles have included a US Congress mandate that Washington halt nuclear cooperation if India tests a nuclear weapon as it did in 1998.
Other disputed points have been US refusal to give India prior approval to allow reprocessing of spent fuel with US components and to assure permanent fuel supplies.
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