Where There Were No Doors

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Saturday, August 13, 2005

Iran removes seals from nuclear plant

TEHRAN, Iran (ASBC) -- In a move which has shocked many world governments as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), uranium enrichment operations have recommenced at the Esfahan nuclear facility in central Iran.

Although the Tehran regime is not contravening any international laws, and is indeed working within the framework specifically provided by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to enable nations to become self-sufficient in the production of nuclear fuel, words of warning have nonetheless been sounded from around the globe.

In the United States, President George 'Dubya' Bush has refused to rule out the use of military force should Iran not cease it's nuclear activity. Bush stressed that he was still seeking a diplomatic route towards preventing Iran from carrying out the perfectly lawful enrichment programme, but insisted that "all options" were still being considered. "Hell, we've got a quarter million troops down there already!" pointed out the president before adding "And Dick thinks the Iranian oil fields would make a perfect acquisition for Halliburton".

George Bush sends a clear message to Iran

President Dubya sends a clear message to Iran

In response to Bush's announcement that a military attack on Iran was "an option being considered", Cyrus Nasseri, Iran's chief delegate to the IAEA, told the Anarcho-Syndicalist Broadcasting Corporation that Western nations should "think twice" before taking any action that might be considered "coercive."

"That would be a course of action that would lead to a situation where everyone would lose," he said during talks on Wednesday. Nasseri also dropped a clear hint that Iran was prepared to push world oil prices "much higher" if the West tried to block its nuclear program and pointed out that the Iranians were in a position to help ease - or worsen - trouble spots in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

The threat came on a day when crude oil futures hit a new high of nearly $65 a barrel in trading in New York.

Meanwhile European negotiators are still trying hard to bring Iran back to the table. "Certainly it's true that they're not breaking any laws", admitted Hans-Pierre Smith spokesman for the EU-3, "but unlike other governments, Iran has lied in the past about it's nuclear activities. So clearly we have an obligation to refer them to the UN security council because of their resumption of this legal activity".

On Thursday, Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, issued a religious decree declaring the "production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons" to violate the tenets of Islam.

"The leadership of Iran", he announced, "has pledged at the highest level that Iran will remain a non-nuclear-weapon state party to the NPT and has placed the entire scope of its nuclear activities under IAEA safeguards and additional protocol, in addition to undertaking voluntary transparency measures with the agency that have even gone beyond the requirements of the agency's safeguard system."

This was confirmed by IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky who agreed that the IEAE had indeed received such assurances, and said that the plant at Esfahan "is fully monitored by the IAEA" and does not produce enriched uranium which can be used in nuclear weapons.

Nevertheless, he admitted that the actions of the Tehran government were of concern to the Agency. "It's not that we specifically don't trust the Iranians", sighed Gwozdecky, "but when you've been doing this as long as we have... well... we've heard it all before frankly. India and Pakistan both lied to us consistently for a decade, and now they've just been rewarded for their deceit with major US arms-trade deals. I mean, how the hell are we supposed to keep a lid on this thing when every time some maverick regime starts researching nukes they get threats and sanctions, but as soon as they actually test one it's all F-16 contracts and anti-missile systems. And don't even get me started on Israel! Oh, but of course we're not allowed talk about that, are we?"

Gwozdecky then muttered something along the lines of "I don't know why I bother" before cutting the interview short to "go and get drunk". There was, he insisted, "bugger all else to do".

The crisis follows almost two years of negotiations during which the plant at Esfahan was rendered inoperative by trained IAEA seals put in place to monitor the facility and alert the agency should uranium enrichment begin again. The seals, which are each the product of a 15 million dollar training programme according to the IAEA, have "been removed humanely" according to authorities in Iran.

One of the IAEA trained seals being removed from the Esfahan plant

An IAEA seal is removed from the Esfahan plant

"We will, of course, return the seals to the IAEA at the earliest possible time" insisted Cyrus Nasseri. "Right now they are being debriefed in Tehran zoo where they are being very well treated". Animal rights organisations, however, have lodged several complaints with both the IAEA (claiming that nuclear facilities are not suitable habitat for aquatic mammals, however well trained) and the government of Iran (claiming that Tehran zoo does not have adequate space to house the almost two dozen seals deployed by the IAEA at Esfahan).

An IAEA trained seal at work

An IAEA seal monitors a plant in Japan

Matthew Boland, a spokesman for the U.S. mission to international organisations, said that the actions of the administration in Tehran were "yet another sign of Iran's disregard for international concerns." He attacked the track-record of "a nation which has consistently lied about it's nuclear activities" and also raised concern that some of the seals were being mistreated in the hope of gaining information about previous nuclear facilities at which they were stationed.

A seal monitors construction at the Esfahan facility

A seal monitors construction at the Esfahan facility

"Frankly I find their claim that all of the seals are being treated well to be laughable", Boland stated. "We have photographic evidence of seals being transported in barrels with the lids fastened shut and only the smallest of airholes through which to breathe. Under IAEA regulations, seals must only be transported in their specially designed barrels with the lids removed so they can have adequate access to both light and air."
A seal transportation barrel fastened shut

Alleged seal-barrel cruelty

Despite the concerns of the United States and the insistence of Boland that "this is an issue that needs resolving urgently. We cannot allow it to drag on for months allowing the Iranians to develop a nuclear bomb", Western intelligence sources have told ASBC that Iran is still five to 10 years from being technologically capable of building an atomic weapon, even if it restarted its entire nuclear program today.

Because of this, IAEA board members appear sharply divided on a response to the Iranian moves with many not sharing the hardline stance of the US. In fact the United States initially wanted Iran to give up its entire nuclear program but has since been forced to fall in line with the EU-3 in search of guarantees Iran will not produce weapons.

The IAEA's Mark Gwozdecky claimed he was confident the board members would come to a consensus in this week's talks - but he said the larger issue at hand was "Iran's relationship with the rest of the world." That ultimately would require the United States - which has no diplomatic relations with Iran - to enter the European-led negotiations. "I think this [the work at Esfahan] is a concern, but ultimately the bigger question for us and the global community is how to normalise a relationship with Iran that's been strained for almost 25 years," Gwozdecky said.

IAEA website calling for reinstatement of seals

The IAEA website calls for the reinstatement of the seals

Under the Non-Proliferation Treaty, member nations are allowed to develop nuclear energy under the watchful eyes of the IAEA. The only states that have declared they have nuclear weapons but have not signed the NPT are India and Pakistan.

Israel is also not a signatory: It neither confirms nor denies having nuclear weapons but is widely believed to have a significant arsenal.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you - i have never cried laughing at pictures of seals before (particularly the one monitoring the plant in japan)

22/8/05 12:37  

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