Thursday, June 09, 2011

Iran Says It Will Lift Output of Uranium

Iran Says It Will Lift Output of Uranium

Wall Street Journal

VIENNA—Iran announced it would enrich nuclear fuel at an underground facility whose function had been secret until 2009, boosting its production of enriched uranium in spite of U.N. sanctions over its refusal to halt the enrichment program.

White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said the administration was concerned over Iran's announcement. "Provocative steps such as this do not build confidence in either Iran's interest in meaningful talks or Iran's nuclear intent," he said.

Separately on Wednesday, U.S. officials urged the International Atomic Energy Agency's Board of Governors to censure and refer Syria to the United Nations Security Council amid evidence that Syria built a nuclear reactor in violation of its international treaty obligations.

A resolution on Syria that was drafted by the U.S. and its allies is set to be voted on Thursday, according to diplomats familiar with the lobbying activity. Such a resolution would raise diplomatic pressure on Syria as it faces heavy criticism abroad and domestically for its violent crackdown on the protest movement against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

The push for a resolution gained traction late last month after the IAEA formally reported its assessment that Syria likely built a nuclear reactor. In its report, the IAEA said the features of the destroyed building at Dair Alzour are comparable to features expected in a facility built to hold a gas-cooled graphite moderated reactor.

Syria has consistently denied the allegations, declaring the building in question at Dair Alzour was a nonnuclear military facility, according to the IAEA report to its Board of Governors. Israeli destroyed the site in 2007 prior to its completion, the report says.

Syria also has been actively lobbying to prevent the vote of referral to the U.N. Security Council, which, in turn, could vote to impose sanctions against Syria. In a series of letters to IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano first dispatched last month, Syria's ambassador to the IAEA, Bassam Al-Sabbagh, detailed Syria's willingness to cooperate with the U.N. nuclear agency in resolving questions concerning the suspected reactor site, according to a summary of the letters reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

In the letters, Mr. Sabbagh asked Mr. Amano first to postpone his report, then to supplement the report with a notice that Syria had agreed to cooperate. Mr. Amano declined these requests, according to a summary of the exchange of letters. A spokesman for the Syrian mission in Vienna did not respond to a request for comment.

Since 2008, IAEA inspectors have asked Syria for access to three sites where rubble from the bombed site has been stored. The visit would allow IAEA inspectors to detect whether there are materials that are otherwise contained in a nuclear reactor, according to a diplomat familiar with the IAEA investigation.

Write to David Crawford at

No comments: