The hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah have no completely driven stories of Iran’s nuclear development program from the news. Despite a UN Security Council resolution demanding that Iran cease its nuclear fuel enrichment activities and admonitions from both the United States and Russia, Iran remains obdurate:
Iran has insisted it will not freeze uranium enrichment, in defiance of a UN resolution and warned it could even expand its nuclear programme which the West fears is a cover for efforts to build the bomb.
“Our activities respect the Non-Proliferation Treaty… so we will not accept the suspension (of uranium enrichment),” nuclear chief Ali Larijani told a news conference Sunday, in the first formal reaction to the July 31 resolution.
“They should know that such resolutions will not affect our determination. We will pursue the nuclear rights of Iranians which are enshrined in the NPT.”
The UN Security Council resolution requires Iran to halt uranium enrichment and other sensitive nuclear fuel work by August 31 or face the prospect of sanctions.
“This resolution has no legal credibility and it negates the purpose of the (International Atomic Energy) Agency,” Larijani said.
The resolution was pushed through after Iran ignored a previous non-binding deadline and failed to respond to an international offer of a package of incentives in exchange for a moratorium on nuclear fuel work.
Meanwhile, Iran may be attempting to import additional uranium from DR Congo:
LONDON (AFP) – Iran tried to import uranium for its nuclear programme from the Democratic Republic of Congo, but the shipment was intercepted in Tanzania, an English newspaper has reported, citing a senior Tanzanian customs officer.
A huge shipment of uranium 238 bound for the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas was intercepted on October 22, 2005, by customs officials in Tanzania making a routine check, the officer told the Sunday Times.
The British weekly also cited a United Nations report, due to be considered by the Security Council, which said there was “no doubt” that a large shipment of uranium 238 was transported from the Lubumbashi mines in the DR Congo.
The customs official said the uranium shipment was found hidden in a consignment of coltan, a rare mineral, which was destined for smelting in Kazakhstan after being transported through Bandar Abbas.
“There were several containers due to be shipped and they were all routinely scanned with a Geiger counter,” he said.
“This one was very radioactive. When we opened the container it was full of drums of coltan. Each drum contains about 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of ore. When the first and second rows were removed the ones after that were found to be drums of uranium,” he said.
“The container was put in a secure part of the port and it was later taken away, by the Americans, I think, or at least with their help. We have all been told not to talk to anyone about this.”
Iran has denied the report:
TEHRAN (AFP) – Tehran has rejected a British newspaper report that Iran had tried to import uranium for its nuclear program from the Democratic Republic of Congo, calling it part of the West’s “psychological war.”
The report “is utterly untrue, because we do not need to import uranium while we have uranium mines and a plant to reprocess it,” Iran’s top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani told reporters Sunday.
“This is part of a psychological war which the Americans resort to once in a while to feed the public mind,” Larijani added.
IMO and as I’ve mentioned before one of the strongest reasons to doubt Iran’s claims of its peaceful intentions in developing an indigenous nuclear fuel cycle (besides the fact that Iran vents enough gas from its oilheads to generate more power than its reactor will) is that Iran, even with recently reported uranium discoveries in the country, does not possess enough uranium to fuel its reactor for its lifespan.
It’s hard to see how Iran can achieve energy independence by converting to nuclear power generation while importing uranium to fuel the process.
UPDATE: There’s may be less to the Iran-DR Congo story than meets the eye. See my update here.