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June 10, 2004
IAEA Discovers Orders For Thousands Of Centrifuges: Reuters

Reuters reports this evening that the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN watchdog for nuclear non-proliferation, has discovered evidence that Iran intended on building thousands of centrifuges for weapons-grade nuclear fuel:

The U.N. nuclear watchdog has found indications Iran wanted to equip thousands of uranium enrichment centrifuges, enough to produce bomb-grade material for several warheads per year, diplomats say. ... At a closed-door meeting on Iran, a senior inspector from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told the agency's governing board a private Iranian company had expressed interest in "tens of thousands" of magnets for advanced P-2 centrifuges from a European intermediary, said a diplomat who attended.

The IAEA said last week in its latest report on Iran that the company had expressed interest in 4,000 magnets from a European intermediary -- enough for 2,000 centrifuges -- and had added it might buy in "higher numbers" to get a lower price.

Iran said it only bought 150 sample magnets from an Asian firm. But one diplomat told Reuters "tens of thousands" meant the Iranian firm was considering buying at least 20,000 more.

Since two magnets are required for a single centrifuge, which purifies uranium for use as fuel for power plants or weapons by spinning at supersonic speeds, this would have been enough for at least 10,000 P-2 centrifuges, diplomats said on Thursday.

Iran has led inspectors by the nose for some time, and now the IAEA finally has unequivocal indications of Iranian intentions. The mullahs have maintained that their nuclear program was only designed to produce electricity for domestic consumption. Then, after P-2 centrifuges were discovered at an Iranian Air Force base, Teheran insisted that they were experimental and unconnected to any military effort. Now the IAEA has evidence that they wanted to order over 20,000 magnets, and since each centrifuge only uses two magnets, the IAEA can no longer ignore Iran's intentions on producing large amounts of weapons-grade nuclear fuel in violations of its non-proliferation agreements.

Now the question will be Europe's intentions. European leaders have made no secret of their belief that the US has taken too hard of a line with the mullahs. How will they react now that the Bush administration has been correct all along?

UPDATE 10 PM CDT: Fox now has the same story, but I don't see anything on CNN or the AP. I wonder why?

Coming out of the meeting, Iran's chief delegate to the IAEA, Amir Zamaninia said his country had attempted to clarify "a number of misunderstandings on the part of ... mainly the United States."

But another delegate present said members of the Iranian and U.S. delegations had clashed on a number of issue at what was supposed to be a technical meeting, likening their deep differences on the nature of Iran's nuclear program to a chasm between "two worlds."

It reminds me of the differences between political parties here in the US, or between the US and Europe. Some people continue to claim that Iranians mean no harm even though the evidence now clearly stares them in the face -- and even the Iranians seem to be saying, "Who are you going to believe, us or your own lying eyes?"

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 10, 2004 7:27 PM

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The International Atomic Energy Agency has caught the mad mullahs of Iran with their hands in the nuclear cookie jar again...  it seems that now the Iranians are attempting to buy (from Europe of all places) tens of thousands of... [Read More]

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