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Concern in Israel: No One is Stopping Iran!

Atomic Energy Agency: Iran's nuclear program barreling ahead. Unease in Israel: Doesn't anyone care?
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 5/24/2007, 12:43 PM

The International Atomic Energy Commission (IAEA) released a report on Wednesday showing that not only has Iran not fulfilled its international demands, but it has also expanded the scope of its uranium enrichment.

"Iran is speeding towards a nuclear bomb," lamented an unnamed senior Israeli diplomatic figure, "and no one is stopping her." So reported Maariv.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni responded to the report with a show of diplomatic concern: "The international community must concentrate on preventing Iran from attaining nuclear weapons. The report shows that the time element is critical, and the entire world must be united in understanding that we must not stray from this goal."

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert assumed a more undaunted pose. "Iran's continued uranium enrichment is a source of concern," according to a statement from Prime Minister Olmert's Bureau, "even though it is insufficient to indicate that Iran has already achieved an industrial-level enrichment capability."

The statement expressed Israel's regret at "Iran's systematic and open violation of the resolutions of the UN Security Council and the IAEA... We view with utmost gravity the continuing deterioration in the level of Iranian cooperation with the IAEA's inspectors."

IRNA, the Iranian press agency, reported today that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Iran, backed by its nation, has no fear of enemies' hue and cry and psychological warfare. "We have got closer to our final goals with the grace of Allah," he told commanders of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps.

The report reveals that instead of freezing the uranium enrichment program, Iran has widened its scope, with 1,300 centrifuges in operation in various nuclear facilities throughout the country. Less than a year ago, an Iranian opposition group warned that “hundreds” of centrifuges could be operative by the following year [2007] if steps were not taken by the international community.

“We believe they pretty much have the knowledge about how to enrich,” IAEA chief Mohammed El-Baradei told The New York Times almost two weeks ago. "From now on, it is simply a question of perfecting that knowledge. People will not like to hear it, but that’s a fact.”  Today, however, he backed off a bit, saying that Iran is still "three to eight years away from achieving nuclear arms."

Transportation Minister Sha'ul Mofaz, formerly Israel's Defense Minister, is scheduled to begin a round of talks in Washington on the matter in two weeks' time.

A UN-imposed ultimatum demanding that Iran suspend its nuclear plans expires tomorrow, Friday.