Iran Says Nukes Are for Electricity
BUSHEHR, Iran -
Iran on Wednesday rejected U.S. accusations that it would
use its nuclear program to secretly produce atomic
weapons, saying all facilities are open to international
The burgeoning nuclear program intends to provide 6,000
megawatts of electricity by 2020, the deputy head of the
Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Assadollah Sabori,
told The Associated Press.
"There is nothing secret about our nuclear program,"
Sabori said, adding, "We keep all our nuclear
facilities open to IAEA inspection."
The IAEA is the International Atomic Energy Agency based
in Vienna, Austria.
But the White House disputes Iran's contention that the
program is for producing energy, saying the country
already possesses some of the largest reserves of oil and
natural gas in the world.
"We completely reject Iran's claim that it is doing
so (building nuclear reactors) for peaceful purposes,"
White House spokesman Ari Fleischer has said.
Washington also urged Iran on Tuesday to sign the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty, which would subject sites to
more rigorous inspections.
On Wednesday, a French newspaper quoted Iran's nuclear
energy chief as saying his country would sign the treaty
if Western countries drop sanctions against Tehran.
Gholamreza Aghazadeh told Le Monde that Iran neither had
the need for nuclear arms nor the capacity to build them.
Washington imposed sanctions on Iran banning the sale of
dual-use technology after the 1979 takeover of the U.S.
Embassy in Tehran by militant students. Other Western
nations also refuse to sell dual-use or nuclear
technology to Iran.
Sabori said it was unfair to pressure Iran for trying to
acquire nuclear technology. When the pro-American Shah
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi ruled Iran before the 1979 Islamic
revolution, the country planned to build 23 nuclear
plants when its average annual power consumption was less
than 3,000 megawatts, he said.
"Now, Iran's annual power consumption is 30,000
megawatts. It would have been more logical for the United
States to put Iran under pressure before 1979," he
"The United States has more oil and Russia has more
gas than Iran. Yet, the United States has 104 and Russia
30 operating nuclear plants, respectively."
On Tuesday, Iran allowed international media to tour the
nuclear power plant being built in southern Bushehr. It
was the first time outsiders were allowed in the plant,
"The presence of over 80 international journalists
shows our nuclear policy is transparent," Sabori
The Russian-built plant is more than 70 percent complete
and should go on stream next year. Its capacity will be 1,000
Although Russia will provide nuclear fuel for Bushehr,
Iran wants to control the whole fuel cycle, from mining
uranium ore to enriching uranium at a centrifuge plant
being built in central Natanz.
That site was inspected last month by IAEA head Mohamed
The Washington Post reported this week that the Natanz
project will enable Iran to produce enough enriched
uranium for several nuclear bombs each year.
Another nuclear facility in central Isfahan will go on
stream in about three months, Sabori said. It will
convert uranium ore into gas that will be enriched at
Natanz, where it will be made into fuel pellets used in a