Bloomberg, May 2 – The United Nations Security Council is preparing a "stiff message” for Iran on its nuclear program, a senior U.S. diplomat said today, as Iran announced that its scientists have raised their uranium enrichment to 4.8 percent.
The UN is planning a resolution with a "stiff international message,” as "this is the kind of message Iran needs to hear now,” U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns told reporters in Paris.
In Tehran, Gholam Reza Aghazadeh, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, said his scientists have enriched uranium to 4.8 percent, the state-run Iranian Student News Agency reported. A concentration of 3 to 5 percent is needed to fuel a power plant, while 90 percent is required for a weapon, according to the Institute for Energy and Environmental Research in Maryland.
"The Security Council has no option now but to proceed under Chapter 7” of the UN Charter, Burns said at a news conference in Paris before a meeting of foreign ministry political directors from the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany. Chapter 7 provides for measures up to the “use of armed force” for non-compliance with UN resolutions.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran had joined the “nuclear club” on April 9 by enriching uranium to 3.5 percent. International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei on April 28 confirmed that Iran had enriched uranium to 3.6 percent by April 16.
"Enrichment of more than 5 percent is not part of Iran’s program,” Aghazadeh told ISNA. “This level of enrichment for producing nuclear fuel is sufficient.”
Iran ignored an April 28 deadline set by the Security Council for the Islamic Republic to halt the program. The U.S. suspects Iran plans to build a bomb, while Iran says the aim is to generate electricity.
The U.S. is joined by the U.K. and France in the diplomatic offensive at the Security Council to pressure Iran to suspend its research and allow wider inspections.
Diplomats from the three nations, along with Russia and China, will discuss the dispute at the Paris meeting. A German envoy is joining the five permanent members of the Security Council which hold veto power over resolutions. The aim of today’s meeting is “to maintain our unity,” Burns said.
Iran’s parliament agreed to allocate an additional $212 million to finish the construction of the country’s first nuclear plant, in Bushehr, state-run Iran News reported today, citing Gholam Hossein Elham, a government spokesman.
The Islamic Republic has already paid Russia as much as $1 billion to build the plant capable of generating about 1,000 megawatts of electricity. The construction has faced numerous delays and should be completed by the end of this year.
If Iran persists in its rejection of UN demands, the Security Council will draw up a second resolution laying out trade and other economic sanctions, Burns said. The U.S. diplomat said the sanctions envisioned wouldn’t affect Iran’s sales of oil and gas.
Burns said it’s "no longer time to do business as usual” with Iran without specifying which areas of trade are likely to be targeted. The exchange of technology or defense technology is no longer possible and it’s "time for isolation” for Iran, Burns said.
At today’s talks, “we’ll share our views on Mr. ElBaradei’s report, knowing that we all agree with the statement that it’s very worrying that Iran has not complied with international requirements,” French Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said by telephone. “Everybody agrees on one goal: we cannot allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon or a program to develop nuclear defense. On the basics we all converge.”
Delegates will then “discuss the legal basis for a resolution, and whether or not to include Chapter 7,” Mattei said. The three European representatives are preparing a resolution “which would be legally compulsory, so within the framework of Chapter 7.”
Jean-Marc de La Sabliere, France’s ambassador to the UN, said the UN resolution should require compliance within a maximum of 30 days. “It should not be too long,” de La Sabliere told reporters in New York.
Maryam Rajavi, the head of the French-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, called today for sanctions to be imposed immediately.
The IAEA report "left no doubt about the intentions of the mullahs to deceive the international community in order to buy more time to develop the nuclear bomb,” Rajavi said in an e- mailed statement. The Security Council "should, without further delay, impose comprehensive sanctions against the religious dictators ruling Iran,” she said.