Iran voices defiance towards nuclear deadline

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran expressed his unwillingness to conform to UN Security Council demands on Tuesday. Ahmadinejad said, "Peaceful nuclear energy is the right of the Iranian nation. The Iranian nation has chosen that based upon international regulations, it wants to use it and no one can stop it." Iran has until Thursday to comply with a U.N. Security Council demand to stop its uranium enrichment program. If Iran does not comply by Thursday, the UN has left open the possibility of economic sanctions. Ahmadinejad says that he is willing to listen to negotiations related to changing Iran's nuclear program but that, "...any kind of dialogue should be based upon the certain rights of the Iranian nation."

While the rights of which Ahmadinejad speaks are not currently available for public viewing, Iranian academics point to the six issues in Iran's standard diplomatic policy.

Iran has consistently claimed that it is enriching uranium and building plutonium-producing reactors for solely peaceful purposes—for the generation of electricity, the exporting of materials for other civilian nuclear industries, and the creation of medical radioisotopes—while many western nations have accused the country of running a clandestine nuclear weapons program. They have cited as evidence for this Iran's continual investment in dual-use technology which could be used for either civilian or military purposes, as well as alleging that Iran has not been forthright in disclosures of its nuclear developments.

Iran provoked international controversy in April 2006 when it announced an earlier nuclear success: the enrichment of a small amount of uranium to reactor-grade levels (3.5% of the isotope uranium-235 using gas centrifuge technology. Concern was raised by some that if Iran was able to scale up its enrichment facilities to thousands of centrifuges, they could be used to produce bomb-grade uranium (90% uranium-235).

Iran has insisted that under the terms of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, of which it is a signatory, it is guaranteed the right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. None of Iran's facilities currently have the ability to produce weapons-grade nuclear material, and most experts say it would be at least a decade for Iran to be able to build a functional nuclear weapon.