Teheran (AsiaNews/Agencies) Nothing came out of yesterday's meeting about Iran's nuclear ambitions between permanent members of the UN Security Council. The United States is not excluding any options, even a military approach, and Tehran says it is ready to fight it out.
No decisions were taken in Moscow at the meeting between the five permanent members of the Security Council, plus Germany. The United States wants immediate sanctions but China and Russia are against. The six countries party to talks on Iran's nuclear programme have all agreed about one thing though: "Iran must take urgent and constructive steps to respond to the decision of the Council of Governors of the IAEA", as declared by the Russian Foreign Affairs Minister, Sergei Lavrov.
Today another meeting will be held with the participation of Canada and Italy (to make up the eight most industrialized countries), but there may be another postponement to see what the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has to say about the matter; the agency is due to report to the Security Council on 28 April.
Washington wants to get the United Nations to issue a condemnation against Iran, authorizing member states to take any steps necessary to stop the nuclear programme, including the use of force stipulated in Article 7 of the UN Charter. According to persistent rumours, the United States is even considering bombing nuclear research plants in Iran. "All the options are on the table. We want to solve this issue diplomatically and we're working hard to do so," President Bush said yesterday.
Also yesterday, his Iranian counterpart, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, told a military parade held to mark the anniversary of the setting up of the army in 1979: "Iran's army is among the world's most powerful because it relies on God" and it will "cut the hand of any aggressor and place the sign of disgrace on their forehead". Observers say military manoeuvres are becoming increasingly frequent in the country.
The situation assumed a more urgent tone last week when Ahmadinejad announced the country had produced a small amount of enriched uranium needed to produce atomic weapons at the Natanz nuclear facility. This "runs contrary to the regime's claims that its nuclear program is solely for peaceful purposes", said Scott McLellan, White House spokesman. However, it's not clear whether Tehran already the technology to produce the large quantities of enriched uranium needed to make nuclear arms. The Natanz facility, according to experts, used a cascade of 164 centrifuges, and it would need 20 years to produce enough for a bomb. But US sources, basing their information on commercial satellite photos, revealed Iran was expanding its nuclear facilities with new constructions. Experts speculate the expansion consists of new tunnels for the uranium conversion facility in Isfahan and the enrichment facility in Natanz, which could shortly have thousands of other centrifuges.
Said Leylaz, an economist close to the Rafsanjani faction, said: "The announcement made on 9 April that Iran is able to enrich uranium, could be seen as a move to precipitate the situation or to find a way out... Compromise is expected in Tehran because otherwise what sense would there be in starting negotiations with Washington?... Surely the regime is hopeful about this, otherwise it would not have announced it [production of enriched uranium].
According to Iranian sources, on 21 April, the country will receive an IAEA delegation for more inspections, including one in Natanz. The Iranian question is one of the reasons that contributed to yesterday's increase in oil prices to a record 71.60 US dollars a barrel.