April 13, 2006 (Stop Fundamentalism) â€“ Mohamed ElBaradei the Noble peace prize laureate and the head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency IAEA arrived in Tehran Thursday to talk Iran into suspension of its uranium enrichment program and return to the negotiating table with the West.
Iran sparked international alarm two days ago after it announced that it has achieved the capability to operate a 164 cascade of centrifuges, which could produce 3.5% enriched uranium. The technology, as scientists say, could be used to produce weaponâ€™s grade uranium.
Iranian hardliner President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared on Tuesday April 11 that Iran had officially joined the group of countries with nuclear capabilities commonly known as theâ€Nuclear Club.â€
â€œI officially announce that Iran has joined the worldâ€™s nuclear countries,â€ Ahmadinejad said in a speech that was broadcasted on state television.
Former Iranian President Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani also announced on Tuesday, despite a call by the United Nations Security Council for Iran to cease all uranium enrichment activities that this country has begun uranium enrichment.
â€œWe operated the first unit which comprises of 164 centrifuges, gas was injected, and we got the industrial output,â€ Rafsanjani, who currently chairs the State Expediency Council, told the Kuwaiti news agency in Tehran.
â€œThere needs to be expansion of operation if we are to have a complete industrial unit; tens of units are required to set up a uranium enrichment plant,â€ he added.
Iran reportedly has 3000 to 5000 centrifuges and currently has the capacity to hold 50,000.
About ElBaradeiâ€™s visit to Iran, Rafsanjani said that the UN nuclear watchdog chief would meet new circumstances.
ElBaradei will report back to the UN Security Council at the end of this month on whether Tehran is complying with its demand to stop all enrichment activity by 28 April, or risk isolation.
The talks seem to have had no effect as Iran on Thursday dismissed all appeals from ElBaradei to freeze its nuclear program.
The UN Security Council adopted a â€œPresidential Statementâ€ unanimously on March 29 giving Iran 30 days to suspend all of its uranium enrichment activities and resume its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency.
The US and Europe are pressing for sanctions against Iran, a step UN Security Council members Russia and China have opposed.
A senior Chinese arms control official, Assistant Foreign Minister, Cui Tiankai, is due in Tehran for talks on Friday.
Diplomats at the Security Council said the five permanent council members and Germany would meet to discuss Iran in Moscow next week. However, they said the council was unlikely to take action before receiving ElBaradei’s report.