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Published:November 15th, 2006 03:50 EST
Iran Should Pursue Peaceful Nuclear Path, U.S. Envoy Says

Iran Should Pursue Peaceful Nuclear Path, U.S. Envoy Says

By SOP newswire

Washington -- Iran is pursuing two nuclear paths " a uranium path and a plutonium path " " while the rest of the world wants it to follow a third route by developing peaceful nuclear energy, a senior U.S. diplomat told an audience in the United Arab Emirates November 13.

U.N. inspectors with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria, have found plutonium and traces of highly enriched uranium, news agencies reported November 14, citing a draft report prepared for an IAEA meeting the week of November 20.

At the State Department, spokesman Sean McCormack said November 14 that the IAEA report underscore[s] the fact that we need a [U.N. Security Council] resolution in order to send a strong message to the Iranians they need to change their behavior. "

He added that the Iranian government`s plan to achieve industrial-scale production " of highly enriched uranium by installing tens of thousands of centrifuges in its nuclear program should be a cold jolt " to the international community.

[T]hey say the production of uranium is for their peaceful nuclear program.  Well, excuse us if we base it on past Iranian behavior, [and] we don`t buy that, " McCormack said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said November 14 that his country expects to complete its nuclear fuel program soon and claimed the international community is ready to accept Iran as a nuclear state.

In reality, the international community is increasingly united in opposing Iran`s nuclear program, said Ambassador Gregory L. Schulte, U.S. envoy to the IAEA. (See related article.)

Iran`s nuclear activities are not consistent with a program that is peaceful, and more and more countries are convinced it is not, " Schulte said November 13 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where he addressed the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research.

More and more countries have come to the same conclusion as my own: that Iran`s nuclear program -- with its history of secrecy, its ties to the A.Q. Khan network, its connections to Iran`s military -- is actually a cover for developing nuclear weapons, " Schulte said.

Abdul Qadeer Khan, the former head of Pakistan`s nuclear weapons program, was removed from his position in 2001 amid growing international concern that he had sold nuclear technology to countries such as North Korea. In 2004, Khan confessed he had also sold nuclear weapons technology to Libya and Iran.

The pursuit of nuclear weapons by the dangerous leaders in Tehran threatens Iran`s neighbors and threatens the wider world community, " Schulte said.

For example, Schulte said, a nuclear-armed Iran could:

¢ Embolden leaders in Tehran to advance their ambitions across the Middle East, either with military forces they build up or with the terrorists they train and equip;

¢ Pose an even greater threat to Middle East peace, including threatening the existence of one state in the region, Israel; and

¢  Cause neighboring countries to re-evaluate their commitments to  nuclear nonproliferation.

This could destroy the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, a cornerstone of peace and security, " Schulte said.

Schulte said 17 countries with nuclear power purchase their fuel on the open market instead of making the expensive and unnecessary investment in uranium enrichment. " These include such technologically advanced countries as Sweden, Finland and South Africa.

France, Germany and the United Kingdom have offered to back the international market with legally binding assurances of fuel supply, " Schulte said. But Iran`s leaders have shown no interest. "

Schulte said that the choice that would most benefit the Iranian people " would be for Iran`s leaders to cooperate with the international community and take credible steps to assure the world that their nuclear program is solely peaceful. "

President Bush said November 13 that he is willing to have talks with Iran on Iraq and other regional issues, but any such talks must be preceded by a verifiable suspension of Iran`s uranium enrichment activities. (See related article.)

On October 26, the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council began negotiations on a draft resolution that would impose sanctions on Iran`s nuclear activities. (See related article.)

Schulte`s remarks are posted on the Web site of the U.S. Mission to International Organizations in Vienna.

See also Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

(The Washington File is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: