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Powell: Intelligence suggests Iran trying to adapt missiles for nukes
anti-war / imperialism |
Thursday November 18, 2004 13:57 by Jem
(Here we go again?)
Powell says Iran's nuclear activities "should be of concern to all parties."
SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) -- The United States has intelligence indicating Iran is trying to fit missiles to carry nuclear weapons, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell said.
Powell partially confirmed claims by an Iranian opposition group that Tehran is deceiving the United Nations and is attempting to secretly continue activities meant to give it atomic arms by next year.
"I have seen intelligence which would corroborate what this dissident group is saying," Powell told reporters Wednesday as he traveled to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Santiago, Chile. "And it should be of concern to all parties."
Pressed by reporters on the intelligence reports, Powell said the intelligence indicates that Iran "had been actively working on delivery systems" capable of carrying a nuclear weapon.
Powell said there is no evidence to suggest that Iran has developed the technology to make a nuclear weapon, but suggested that the regime is working to adapt missiles for nuclear warheads.
"I'm talking about information that says that they not only had these missiles, but I'm aware of information that suggests they were working hard as to how to put the two together," Powell said.
A senior official for the National Council for Resistance in Iran said Tuesday that a bomb diagram -- along with an unspecified amount of weapons-grade uranium -- was provided to Iran by Abdul Qadeer Khan, the disgraced former head of Pakistani's nuclear development which was tied to both Iran and Libya. (Full story)
The official said the designs were handed to the Iranians between 1994 and 1996, while Khan delivered HEU -- highly enriched uranium -- in 2001.
Banned in the United States as a terrorist organization, the group was instrumental in 2002 in revealing Iran's enrichment program in the central city of Natanz, based on what it said was information provided by sources in Iran.
The opposition group says a facility at Lavizan-Shian northeast of Tehran was part of a secret nuclear weapons program.
Powell declined comment on Khan but said that "for 20 years the Iranians have been trying to hide things from the international community."
Iran says its sole interest is to generate nuclear fuel through low-level uranium enrichment, but the United States suspects Iran wants to produce weapons-grade enriched uranium.
Enrichment does not violate the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, but the International Atomic Energy Agency and most of its members want Iran to scrap enrichment plans as a confidence building measure.
Iran announced suspension of enrichment last week, and the agency said it would police that commitment starting next week, in advance of a Nov. 25 IAEA board meeting.
The pledge reduced Washington's hopes of having the board refer Iran to the U.N. Security Council for alleged violations of the Nonproliferation Treaty.
Tehran has not dropped plans to run 50,000 centrifuges to enrich uranium for what it says will be the fuel requirements of a nuclear reactor to be finished next year.
It currently possesses less than 1,000 centrifuges. But if it added 500 centrifuges, experts say Iran would be able to make enough weapons-grade uranium to make a bomb annually.