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May 7, 2009 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 513

Iran Foreign Minister: The Japanese Nuclear Model Applies To Us Too

May 7, 2009 | By A. Savyon and Yossi Mansharof*
Iran | Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 513

At a May 2, 2009 joint press conference with Japanese Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone, Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki called for implementing the Japanese nuclear model in Iran as well, saying, "The view that exists about Japan's nuclear activities should be applied to other countries including Iran." Mottaki reiterated that Iran’s nuclear activities were "legal and peaceful," and said, "Japan spent many years to build confidence about its nuclear work. Iran is moving on a similar path… During the confidence-building years Japan was never obliged to suspend its (nuclear) activities." [1]

It should be noted that following World War II, Japan undertook an obligation to not develop nuclear weapons, even though in theory it was capable of building a nuclear bomb within three months.

In February 2005, MEMRI published an Inquiry and Analysis titled "Iran Seeks EU Consent for Modeling Its Nuclear Program on the 'Japanese/German Model' - i.e. Nuclear Fuel Cycle Capabilities Three Months Short of a Bomb." [2]

The following is the introduction from this paper:

As predicted, the gaps between Iran and the EU3 - namely, Germany, France and Britain - have not been narrowed in the three months of negotiations since last November's 'Paris Agreement.' [3]

The claim that Iran has committed itself to permanently cease its uranium-enrichment activities was inaccurate. Iran insists that its unilateral commitment to the EU3 is a temporary, voluntary and non-binding one, with an expiration date of March 15. [4]

With the approach of March 15, Iran is insistent upon enriching uranium, stating that it is its right and that its uranium-enrichment program is meant only to power its nuclear reactors for civilian purposes. Belgian Foreign Minister Karel De Gucht, however, has recently said: "We should not believe that the Iranians only want to use their nuclear technology for civilian purposes. The country wants an atomic bomb." [5] Iran categorically rejects the European demand that it permanently cease its uranium-enrichment activities and rely upon nuclear fuel supplied by European sources. [6] Iran is also refusing to relinquish its heavy-water reactor, as the Europeans have requested.

In addition, on numerous occasions Iran has declared its intention to attain independent nuclear fuel cycle capabilities, thereby making the production of nuclear weapons possible as well.

In light of the impending crisis with Europe on March 15 and the mounting American pressures, Iran is trying to seek EU consent for modeling its nuclear program on the "Japanese/German model," i.e. attaining nuclear fuel cycle capabilities up to three months short of a bomb. Japan and Germany, which are parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), are considered to have nuclear fuel cycle capabilities, and it is estimated that if they so desired, they could attain nuclear weapons within three months. In a visit to Berlin on February 17, Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi proposed the Japanese/German model as the basis for Iran-EU negotiations. In a meeting with German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, Kharrazi elaborated on Iran's perspective how to resolve the dispute with the EU3: "Peaceful nuclear plants in Germany and Japan can serve as a good model for Iran's nuclear projects, and serve as the basis for any round of talks in that respect." [7]

Another critical deadline awaits Iran in the May 2005 NPT review conference. Iran has announced its rejection of IAEA Director-General Muhammad Al-Baradei's initiative for a five-year moratorium on uranium-enrichment activities, which is expected to be proposed at the coming NPT conference in May. Foreign Minister Kharrazi told the chairman of the NPT review conference, Sergio de Queiroz Duarte, that developing states, including Iran, would not accept any new discrimination in that conference. [8]

In an interview with the conservative Iranian daily Jaam-e Jam, Supreme National Security Council Information Committee Director Ali Agha-Mohammadi said: "In the talks with Europe, we are conquering position after position. The ultimate goal is to preserve [our nuclear] fuel cycle, and we have a long way to go until we achieve it." [9]

Sirus Nasseri, the head of the technical and nuclear committee of Iran's team of negotiators with the EU3, said: "Iran plans to follow up its nuclear fuel production plan completely... The Europeans have good will but still lack necessary political support to reach an agreement... A final agreement in the new round of talks will be based on continuation of [uranium] enrichment by Iran. We will give the Europeans a chance to adopt such a stance but this opportunity will not last forever." [10]

*A. Savyon is Director of the Iranian Media Project; Y. Mansharof is a research fellow at MEMRI.

Endnotes:

[1] Iran Daily, Iran, May 4, 2009.

[2] Iran Seeks EU Consent for Modeling Its Nuclear Program on the 'Japanese/German Model' – i.e. Nuclear Fuel Cycle Capabilities Three Months Short of a Bomb

[3] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 200, "The Iran-E.U. Agreement on Iran's Nuclear Activity," December 21, 2004, The Iran-E.U. Agreement on Iran's Nuclear Activity ; MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 191, "Iran Rejects the European Offer to Supply It With Nuclear Fuel," October 21, 2004, Iran Rejects the European Offer to Supply it With Nuclear Fuel ; MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 189, "Iran's Nuclear Policy Crisis," September 21, 2004, Iran's Nuclear Policy Crisis.

[4] Iran has indicated that the deadline could be further extended. Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi announced that at the end of the three-month period for negotiations agreed upon in the Paris Agreement the Iranians would evaluate "how the negotiations have gone." IRNA (Iran), February 16, 2005. He maintained, however, that the Iranian government had not set a specific time limit for its current nuclear negotiations with the Europeans, but that Tehran insists on its legitimate right to enrich uranium. He further said that he did not expect a "definite result" by March 15 and that Iran would continue to negotiate "if it has the feeling that the talks have been positive." IRNA (Iran), February 17, 2005.

[5] De Morgen (Belgium), February 21, 2005.

[6] For more details on the European proposal, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 191, "Iran Rejects the European Offer to Supply It With Nuclear Fuel," October 21, 2004, Iran Rejects the European Offer to Supply it With Nuclear Fuel.

[7] IRNA (Iran), February 17, 2005.

[8] IRNA (Iran), February 13, 2005.

[9] Jaam-e Jam (Iran), December 28, 2004.

[10] IRNA (Iran), February 21, 2005. In an interview with the Tehran reformist daily Hamshahri, Sirus Nasseri, the head of technical and nuclear committee of Iran's team of negotiators with the EU3, said: "Europe has far more to lose from the breakdown of the talks than we do." Hamshahri, Iran, December 13, 2004.

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