Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Iran enriches uranium, claims peaceful use

Iran claimed today that it had acquired the capability of enriching uranium enabling the country to produce nuclear energy.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that the process would only be used for the peaceful production of energy and not to make nuclear weapons.

Iran has said it desires to operate nuclear power plants following the regulations of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and under supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Iranian official holds capsule of uranium gas. AP Photo from Yahoo News

The U.N. Security Council under pressure from the U.S. called on Iran to stop uranium enrichment as it felt that Iran is intent on using radioactive by-products to make weapons.

Legally the argument is weak as no hard evidence has been brought forward of any Iranian nuclear weapons program. The country is developing advanced ballistic missiles in cooperation with North Korea.

These weapons though need not be armed with nuclear warheads.

We've already seen in Iraq how such accusations of WMD programs can have no basis in reality.

While it may be hard for some to accept it is possible that the ayatollahs could simply be interested in nuclear power. They might use this power to build more non WMD weapons, but that is within their rights.

Many feel the moment of a U.S. or Israeli airstrike is not far off. But Iran doesn't seem overly worried.

They have at least two major allies -- Russia and China. The former in particular has been doing most of the work on Iranian nuclear sites. Both countries have said they would oppose U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran.

The West would probably be wiser to engage the Iranians and accept international oversight of their program. Unless real evidence, rather than accusation, is brought to the fore a consensus on action is not likely to occur. And as long as Iran has Russia and China in their corner, they are unlikely to cede to Western pressure.

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