09 February 2010
Efforts to pass new UN sanctions on Iran are gathering speed after Tehran declared dead a proposal by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to which it had agreed in October 2009 in Geneva. US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he would like to see United Nations sanctions against Iran in a matter of "weeks, not months." Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell told reporters that Gates believed "time is of the essence” and that a UN resolution would lay the legal groundwork countries needed to impose sanctions independently and pressure Iran to abandon its nuclear program.
Meeting in Paris with French officials, Gates and French President Nicolas Sarkozy had agreed in talks that "strong" new sanctions must be passed against Iran over its nuclear drive, the Elysée Palace said in a statement.
Israel's Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom told a radio program: "The coming month is decisive. It is time the international community imposes tough sanctions against Iran, even if Russia and China do not go along."
On Tuesday, Iran began enriching its existing uranium stockpile. "Today, we started to make 20 per cent enriched nuclear fuel... in the presence of IAEA inspectors at Natanz," an unnamed official told Iran's Arabic-language state television ‘al-Alam’. A spokesman of Iran's Atomic Energy Organisation, Ali Shirzadian, confirmed that "preparatory work" had started at 9.30 a.m. and that production would formally get under way at about 1 p.m. local time. However, because Iran lacks the technology to make fuel rods it will not be able to use the enriched material for medical purposes, raising suspicions that it is in reality seeking to produce weapons-grade fuel. France and Argentina are the only countries capable of making the rods, and Argentina has refused to help.
A spokesman of Iran's Foreign Ministry told reporters that the enrichment would be done with the cooperation and supervision of the IAEA, adding that "if other countries or the agency could provide the fuel, our attitude can be different as well."
Meanwhile, Iran has reportedly begun producing unmanned drones capable of carrying out assaults with high precision, Iranian news agencies report. "The drone, due to its physical attributes and the material used in its body, cannot be detected by any radar," an Iranian air force commander said.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told a gathering of air force personnel that Tehran would deliver a “stunning punch” to the West this week, which marks the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution in 1979. In an interview with ‘al-Jazeera’ television, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki said the Jewish people were "mad" and being led by "lunatics." He added that Israel was now at its weakest state in the last three years.
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