Thursday, April 9, 2009

Ahmadinejad inaugurates Iran's first nuclear fuel plant – "We are a nuclear power!"

from the DEBKAfile
April 9, 2009
Cutting the ribbon on Iran's first nuclear fuel plant at Isfahan, Thursday, April 9, Iran's president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad triumphantly marked a major breakthrough at a ceremony marking Iran's fourth national nuclear day. The day after the five UN Security Council powers and Germany offered Tehran economic incentives for negotiations on uranium enrichment, he inaugurated a plant for producing fuel rods for Iran's heavy water plant in Arak and its nuclear reactor in Bushehr, thereby reducing the Islamic Republic's fuel dependence Russia which built the reactor.

DEBKAfile's military sources: The Isfahan plant takes Iran's nuclear reactors another big step outside the purview of international inspections. The International Atomic Energy Agency, which has complained often of Iran's tricks of concealment, will find it doubly difficult to track the uses Iran makes of nuclear fuel the closer it comes to mastering the complete fuel cycle.

Our sources believe that Tehran will have attained this goal before the end of 2009. According to Israeli and Western intelligence sources, this would also put the Arak heavy plant on the fast track for the manufacture of plutonium, alongside the weapons-grade enrichment of uranium.

Ahmadinejad furthermore claimed that Iran had developed a new kind of fast centrifuges for the rapid processing large quantities of enriched uranium.

These disclosures followed the concession announced by US secretary of state Hillary Clinton that her government would be fully involved in the talks with Tehran proposed by the 5+1 powers Wednesday. The first round of talks from 2007 and 2008 petered out when Tehran kept on asking for more time to review the generous incentives on offer and ended up refusing to give up uranium enrichment.

Ahmadinejad's Isfahan announcement told Washington and the other five powers that their offer of talks and incentives for discontinuing nuclear enrichment were now irrelevant; Tehran's nuclear program had progressed way past that point.

DEBKAfile's Iranian sources add that Iran's rulers, having won all the time they needed to bring their nuclear weapons program to fruition, are now made doubly cocky by being courted by the Obama administration's willingness to expand the agenda of their dialogue beyond the nuclear issue to Iran's role in the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Tehran calculates that for the sake of its cooperation in resolving these conflicts, the US administration will give way on its nuclear drive.
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