India Intelligence Report

 

 

   Iran Expands Heavy Water Project

  A defiant yet indulgent Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated a new phase in the Arak heavy-water reactor project dismissing global concerns of its controversial program but asserting that “Iran is not a threat to anybody.”
 

 

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A defiant yet indulgent Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inaugurated a new phase in the Arak heavy-water reactor project dismissing global concerns of its controversial program but asserting that “Iran is not a threat to anybody.” Reiterating Iran’s position that “No one can deprive a nation of its rights based on its capabilities,” Ahmadinejad said that “not even the Zionist regime,” meaning Israel, is at risk with this project as it had no military use. Because the project is non-military in nature, it would be outside the purview of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Iran has protected the complex with dozens of anti-aircraft guns and installed four-meter high barbed wire fence around it displaying fears of a preemptive strike by an extra-UN coalition force led by the US. Western nations have been very frustrated with Iran’s perceived attitude and intransigence and more with Russia and China for blocking every UN move to apply more pressure on Iran. This move to open a new phase in enrichment is yet another rebuff to the West and comes within a few days ahead of a UN deadline asking Iran to halt uranium enrichment.

While the heavy water plant itself is not of military significance, the plutonium by product that it generates can be used for making atomic warheads heightening fears of Iran developing a nuclear bomb. While there is no direct evidence to suggest that it is developing one, there is circumstantial evidence that it is. Besides, Iran has continued to be less than transparent in its nuclear ambitions; for example, it hid information that it bought clandestine nuclear weapons technology from disgrace Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan, it said that the new heavy water project was under construction when it was already operational. The West fears that unlike North Korea which is economically bankrupt, a nuclear armed Iran, with 4th highest oil exports and one of the largest natural gas deposits and with a belligerent attitude can whip up religious fervor with impunity, disrupt trade, and debunk economic activity. Worse, if it gets away with it, this could become a formula that others can emulate and challenge the authority of the West, especially the US.

Iran rejects these fears saying that such ambitions are anti-Islamic and against its principles. It says that it needs nuclear project to generate power from natural nuclear fuel that is available in Iran and that this project capable of producing 16 tons of heavy water is a step to achieving self-sufficiency. Heavy water is used as a coolant in nuclear reactors that use natural uranium as fuel and Iran is building a heavy water reactor expected to be operational in 2009. Iran calls the UN Security Council resolution demanding a cessation of enrichment “illegal” and says that this pre-condition is unacceptable to resume talks.

Independent analysts say that with this heavy water facility, Iran has created space for itself to develop plutonium based weapons in addition to the possibility of using enriched nuclear fuel to create bombs. While Ahmadinejad terms Israel “a definite enemy” and wants the Jewish state “wiped off the map,” he says that “there is no discussion of nuclear weapons” in his country even though a senior lawmaker said Israel must “prepare itself militarily.” India has also taken a public position where it views Iran’s nuclear program that is inimical to its interests but wants Iran to be allowed rights under international treaties.

Echoing such statements and reflecting the inherent dangers Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert wanted to take the conversation in his nation beyond the patchy and blotched land operation in Lebanon. While he claims that the operation delivered a “whipped” the Hezbollah, he wants his nation to focus on future wars to be more prepared and ready for larger and more dangerous operations. There is speculation that he could be talking about Iran.