The Iranians have given a new response to the latest failed round of negotiations over their nuclear program, and it’s not “Let’s Stay Together.” The Associated Press reports that Iran opened two more facilities for mining and processing uranium, defiantly proclaiming their insistence on producing nuclear fuel and expanding the self-sufficiency of a mass production capability for fissile material:
Iran announced two key nuclear-related projects on Tuesday that expand the country’s ability to extract and process uranium, which can be enriched for reactor fuel but also potentially for atomic weapons.
The development came just days after another round of talks with world powers seeking to limit Tehran’s atomic program ended in a stalemate.
Iran already has uranium mines and the ability to turn the raw ore into a material called yellowcake, which is the first step in the enrichment chain. But the new facilities — the country’s largest uranium mine and processing facility — give Tehran more self-sufficiency over the raw materials and underscore Iran’s drive to expand its nuclear capacities even as world powers press for concessions.
Actually, as CNN reports, the opening was hailed as part of “National Nuclear Day“:
Two days after nuclear talks with world leaders yielded little progress, Iran announced it has opened a new uranium-processing site to mark “National Nuclear Day.”
The country opened a uranium-processing facility as well as a uranium mine in the central province of Yazd, state-run TV reported Tuesday. …
“Enrichment is part of the rights of the Iranian people, whether we’re talking about 5% or 20%,” said Iran’s top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili said earlier.
Nuclear power plants use uranium that is enriched to 5%, while making a nuclear bomb requires uranium to be enriched 20% or more, Arnie Gundersen, chief energy adviser with the nuclear consulting group Fairewindes Associates, said last year.
One Iranian politician floated a proposal that Iran would withdraw from the Non-Proliferation Treaty entirely and end negotiations permanently on its nuclear program:
Iran will consider withdrawing from the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty if its right to uranium enrichment is not recognized and the West fails to fulfill its nuclear disarmament commitments under the treaty, MP Alaeddin Boroujerdi said on Sunday.
“It is not acceptable that Iran respects the NPT and the (UN nuclear) agency’s regulations but the United States and the West ignore the NPT, including Article VI (nuclear disarmament) and Article IV (Iran’s inalienable nuclear rights). So, there is no reason for Iran to be a member of the NPT and the Majlis can review this issue,” Boroujerdi told Al-Alam News Network.
Looks like the P5+1 has really managed to make progress, eh? Well, perhaps Mother Nature will intervene where negotiations cannot:
A 6.1 magnitude earthquake killed at least three people in a sparsely populated area in the country’s south, state TV reported on Tuesday.
The report said the earthquake struck the town of Kaki some 96 kilometers (60 miles) southeast of Bushehr, a town on the Persian Gulf that is home of Iran’s first nuclear power plant. The Iranian media originally reported that the quake hit nearby Khormooj.
Shahpour Rostami, the deputy governor of Bushehr province told state TV that rescue teams have been deployed to Shomneh, the most damaged district in the region.
There has been no word as of yet about the status of the plant, but Bushehr was built with Western technology and the assistance of Russian and German engineers in a well-known earthquake zone. Given its well-known location, it is almost certainly hardened against attack and quakes, so don’t expect a temblor to derail the Iranian nuclear project — and don’t expect negotiations to do it, either. What is really needed, now that the nuclear genie is out of the bottle in Iran, is regime change.