(From Global Security Network – For more like this- go to www.gsn.nti.org)
Iran has no plan to construct a nuclear bomb, though it does not fear the consequences of taking the step, state media on Thursday quoted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as saying (see GSN, June 22). “If we do want to make a bomb, we are not afraid of anybody,” Ahmadinejad said in remarks carried by the Associated Press.
The U.N. Security Council has adopted four sanctions resolutions aimed at pressuring Iran to curb elements of its nuclear program that could contribute to a possible weapons development drive. Tehran has maintained its atomic intentions are strictly peaceful, but it has steadfastly rejected calls to alter its disputed atomic activities and to allow closer U.N. scrutiny over claims it has conducted research relevant to an arms effort (Associated Press/Google News, June 23).
“I just tell them (world powers), ‘Do not waste any energy and do not make yourself tired, as eventually you have to take all your efforts for making us give in to any compromise to your graves,'” Deutsche Presse-Agentur quoted the Iranian president as saying on Wednesday.
Speaking to Iranian commerce leaders, Ahmadinejad said major governments lack any means of persuading Tehran to curb its atomic efforts, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.
The International Atomic Energy Agency urged Iran in recent weeks to address indications the country had conducted nuclear experiments with primarily military applications (see GSN, June 6)
“These claims are baseless as we do not pursue this aim (of making an atomic bomb),” Ahmadinejad said. “The atomic bomb is something for cowards but Iran is a courageous country which does need an atomic bomb” (Deutsche Presse-Agentur I/Monsters and Critics, June 23).
“The world powers have created an agency named IAEA and put there a bunch of puppets,” he said on Thursday.
“All sanctions imposed against us so far are just pretexts to deprive us from technological progress,” he added (Deutsche Presse-Agentur II/Monsters and Critics, June 23).
In Vienna, Austria, Iran’s top atomic official said his country is ready to supply other countries with uranium enrichment facilities and refined uranium, Iran’s Fars News Agency reported. Tehran could also offer recommendations to other governments on buying atomic energy equipment from outside manufacturers and on defending their interests in related legal arrangements, Iranian Atomic Energy Organization head Fereidoun Abbasi told journalists.
Iran has no immediate intention to sell enriched uranium, Abbasi said. “But if a country party to the [Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty] needs enriched material, we are ready to provide it, through [the] IAEA and with IAEA verification” that it is not diverted for military purposes, he said.
The official said he had “no specific country in mind” for such collaboration. Still, Iran has gleaned applicable knowledge “despite 30 years of sanctions,” he said.
Abbasi encouraged nations in possession of uranium ore deposits to refine the nuclear material, saying they do not need to “sell their natural resources so cheaply.”
“All Iran’s nuclear activities are under full-scope safeguards and exclusively for peaceful purposes,” he added (Fars News Agency, June 22).
Meanwhile, former top Israeli army officer Gabi Ashkenazi said a new drive for punitive economic measures against his nation’s longtime antagonist is the “best course of action” to help avoid the emergence of a nuclear-armed Iran, the Washington Times reported.
“It’s less costly than all the other options if we are serious in saying that we are going to prevent them from having the bomb,” Ashkenazi said.
Jerusalem cannot rule out any potential moves, the former official said, referring to possible armed action against Iran. Still, the use of financial penalties is “a very promising direction” that has not been tapped to its full potential, he said.
“There is a long way to go in that sense,” Ashkenazi said. “Sometimes, I get the feeling that there’s a huge gap between the rhetoric and the reality.”
Iran poses a threat to other countries in the Persian Gulf and elsewhere in the world, not only to Israel, he added. “If you travel in the Middle East, you can hear it from Gulf countries as well as from our neighboring countries,” he said (Ben Birnbaum, Washington Times, June 22).