IAEA to Air More Details on Purported Iranian Warhead Activities

NTI: International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano intends to circulate a portion of the latest data indicating that Iran is developing a nuclear warhead, the Associated Press reported on Monday (seeĀ GSN, Sept. 12).

Amano would provide the data to the 35 nations on his organization’s governing board — probably at a private meeting or in a quarterly safeguards assessment due in November — after requesting approval to release the material from the providing governments, an informed envoy said.

Information of this type has typically been gathered by the United States, Israel and European powers, which doubt Iran’s assertions that its atomic ambitions strictly peaceful. The IAEA chief, though, in August said “many member states” had offered supporting data, which he described as plausible, “extensive and comprehensive” (George Jahn, Associated Press I/Washington Times, Sept. 12).

Iranian Atomic Energy Organization head Fereidoun Abbasi on Sunday said he would serve as his nation’s top representative at the IAEA General Conference, slated to begin next week in Vienna, Austria, United Press International reported (United Press International, Sept. 13).

Meanwhile, the Obama administration on Monday said an Iranian atomic energy facility’s entry into operation demonstrates that the Middle Eastern nation does not require an atomic fuel production capability that could also generate weapon material, Agence France-Presse reported.

Iran on Monday formally commemorated the Bushehr nuclear power plant, the country’s first atomic energy station, achieving 40 percent of its operational potential. A Russian state-run contractor was responsible for completion of the long-delayed facility.

“We would note that Russia’s agreement with Iran on Bushehr provides that Russia will provide the fuel for Bushehr and will take back the spent fuel,” U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.

The fuel plan “in our view underscores the point that Iran doesn’t need its own enrichment facilities because it can receive fuel from the international community, as it is in this case,” Nuland said. Iran has consistently refused to halt its uranium enrichment program, despite the passage of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions demanding that it do so.

“Iran is now the only country in the world with an operating power reactor that has not ratified the Convention on Nuclear Safety,” a development that is “quite troubling,” the spokeswoman added.

“More broadly, the Bushehr opening doesn’t change the fact that Iran still has to meet its larger obligations to the international community and the IAEA,” she said.

The power plant is expected by March to begin contributing to the Iranian electricity network at its peak output of 1,000 megawatts, Iranian Atomic Energy Organization deputy chief Mohammad Ahmadian said on Monday (Agence France-Presse I/Google News, Sept. 12).

Russia called the facility “a good example of strict compliance with the nuclear nonproliferation regime,” Interfax reported on Monday.

“Fuel for the plant will be supplied by Russia on condition of its reimport (into Russia) throughout the period of the plant’s operation,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “The entire process of operation of the plant, and supplies and reimports of fuel for it will be under the complete control of the IAEA.”

“The launching of the Bushehr nuclear power plant, which symbolizes not only friendship and cooperation between our countries, but also progress in the development of the Iranian civil nuclear industry, will help further strengthen our strategic cooperation in various fields and increase international confidence in the purely civil character of the Iranian nuclear program,” the ministry added (Interfax, Sept. 12).

Elsewhere, Iran said it had initiated the trial of two unspecified individuals for allegedly acting on behalf of Israel’s intelligence service and recording footage of Iranian armed forces facilities, AFP reported.

The court process began on Saturday, the Iranian Students’ News Agency quoted Tehran prosecutor Abbas Jafari Dolatabadi as saying.

“The charges against these two people are spying for the Zionist regime, filming sensitive military sites, traveling to areas which is considered to be a crime under the law, and acquiring illicit money from the Israeli spy agency,” he said, adding only that the trial had yet to yield any final determinations (Agence France-Presse II/Google News, Sept. 12).

Separately, the United States indicated it would cancel penalties imposed in May on an Israeli company for selling a petroleum transport vessel to Iran, AP reported on Tuesday (seeĀ GSN, June 6).

The firm Ofer Brothers said it had completed the $8.5 million sale to an Iranian front firm with no knowledge of the ship’s ultimate recipient. The Obama administration, though, has stood by its position that the vessel’s destination was sufficiently clear.

Washington imposed penalties on two additional groups and maintained punitive measures against an Ofer Brothers branch in Singapore (Anne Gearan, Associated Press II/Jakarta Post, Sept. 13).