Dr. Mohamed Sadegh Ayatollahi, Representative of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, has written a detailed response to the September issue of the Risk Report, which published allegations that Teheran was pursuing a nuclear weapon capability. Excerpts from Ambassador Ayatollahi’s statement have been edited for publication here.
Nuclear Activities of the Islamic Republic of Iran
by Dr. Mohamed Sadegh Ayatollahi
Nuclear activities of the Islamic Republic of Iran have been given considerable coverage by the international media. Such coverage is based entirely on circumstantial evidence, unfounded allegations by unnamed sources and pure innuendo. Any attempt by the Islamic Republic of Iran for peaceful application of nuclear energy, which in any other state would not even merit news coverage and would be considered an inalienable right, is immediately singled out as part of a plot to acquire nuclear weapons.
On Iran’s nonproliferation record
Iran is a proponent of the peaceful application of nuclear energy and has a record which can be matched by very few states. Iran signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) at an early date and has placed all its nuclear activities under full-scope IAEA safeguards. Iran played an active and constructive role in negotiations toward the indefinite extension of the NPT and supports efforts to negotiate a comprehensive test ban treaty. As a victim of chemical warfare during its war with Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran abhors the manufacture, stockpiling and deployment of all types of weapons of mass destruction. In 1974, Iran was the first state in the Middle East to propose the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free- zone in the region.
On conventional arms buildup
Iran advocates peaceful relations with the outside world and emphasizes the need to promote “security-building” measures with neighboring states, including Iraq. The painful history of Iran’s 8-year war with Iraq has never prompted Iran to expand even her conventional arsenals, as compared to arms expenditure and imports by other Persian Gulf States with smaller populations and less GNP.
On cooperation with the IAEA
Iran has always supported initiatives aimed at strengthening IAEA safeguards so that the unfortunate lapses which occurred in Iraq and North Korea would not be repeated elsewhere. The records of the IAEA attest to this support. On numerous occasions we have invited the IAEA to visit our nuclear establishment in line with our stated policy of transparency. Visits by IAEA inspectors have never resulted in the slightest hint of any nuclear activity which may remotely be construed as “non-peaceful.” This position has never been challenged by any documented allegation.
Israel has a track record in the nuclear field which is diametrically opposed to that of Iran but unfortunately receives less exposure by the same news media which tirelessly perpetrate allegations against Iran. Let us consider the following facts: Israel has never joined the NPT. Israel has never placed its nuclear activities under effective IAEA safeguards. Israel’s activities in applying nuclear technology for military purposes are so well-known and well-documented that they need not be elaborated upon here. Israel’s nuclear threat continues to be the major obstacle to the establishment of a nuclear-weapon-free-zone in the Middle East. Israel has a remarkable record of attacking peaceful nuclear installations of the Middle East States. The Israeli attack on the IAEA-safeguarded Iraqi research reactor was a clear violation of international law and may have encouraged the subsequent Iraqi digressions.
On the decision to complete Bushehr
One of the main focuses of the western, mostly American, propaganda has been the decision to complete Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) and the intention of the Russian Government to assist Iran. The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran has decided to complete BNPP and further develop its nuclear power industry for several reasons: Billions of dollars have already been invested in this project, whose construction was suspended in 1978. Nuclear power is the inalienable right of all parties to the NPT that have forfeited military nuclear applications in return for the benefits from peaceful applications. Total dependence on fossil fuels for power may not be viable in the future in view of environmental considerations and insecurity of sources of supply. By the year 2010, the domestic demand for oil in Iran will make total internal consumption of this product, and consequently suspension of its export, inevitable.
It is often claimed that the completion of the Bushehr reactor will lead to production of nuclear weapons. This is entirely an over-simplistic and inaccurate statement. Any nuclear expert can attest to the complex and costly facilities required before weapon-grade fissionable material can be extracted from irradiated fuel assemblies of a nuclear power plant facilities and expenses far beyond the capacity of all but a few industrialized states. The Russian and Chinese Governments have stated on many occasions that they will never export to Iran any item which may be considered contrary to its obligations under the terms of the NPT.
On the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI)
The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran is the only organization in Iran responsible for the promotion of nuclear activities and the implementation of national policies in the nuclear field. To achieve its objectives, Iran will undertake the following:
- The construction of Esteghlal Nuclear Power Plant in Bushehr with the cooperation of People’s Republic of China and completion of unit No. 1 of Bushehr nuclear power plant by Russia;
- Installation of a zero-power research reactor and a training reactor;
- Completion of the existing radio-isotope laboratories and installation of a cyclotron accelerator for producing industrial, medical and research isotopes;
- Production of various types of lasers;
- Expansion of capacity of the existing Gamma-Irradiation Center and establishment of centers for food irradiation in other producing regions of the country;
- Expansion of dosimetry, film-badge and thermo-luminescence reserves;
- Performance of exploration activities in the country to identify new sources and establishing their definite reserves;
- Establishment of a pilot plant for production of fuel and nuclear material;
- Training of about 300 personnel at Ph.D., M.Sc. and B.Sc. levels, and nearly 300 additional technicians in the field of nuclear science and technology.
The Islamic Republic of Iran has suggested to the International Atomic Energy Agency to organize regional training courses and joint projects with other countries in the Middle East and Central Asia, making use of the facilities of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.