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Russian Experts Predict Iranian Nuclear Bomb In Five Years

Some experts fear that if Iran acquired a nuclear weapon that could "encourage other countries in the region -- Saudi Arabia or Egypt -- to create an Arab bomb."
by Staff Writers
Moscow, Russia (AFP) Mar 03, 2006
Iran will have nuclear weapons within five years at the latest and the world should from now on get used to the idea, according to an experts' report due to be presented to the Russian foreign and defence policy council on Saturday.

"Iran is seeking to equip itself with nuclear weapons and will succeed in doing so sooner or later," Interfax news agency quoted the report as saying on Friday.

"A minority of experts believe that will happen in the space of between six months and one or two years. The majority think it will take several years, up to five years," said the report to the council, which is an advisory body.

News of the report's contents emerged shortly after Iran and the European Union announced they had failed to strike a deal that could have prevented Tehran being sent to the United Nations Security Council over its nuclear activities.

Iran denies it is seeking to develop a nuclear bomb as the United States has charged, but has so far refused to promise to not develop technology that would allow it to develop an atomic weapon.

Russia has proposed that Iran should enrich on Russian soil the uranium it says is needed for its civilian nuclear reactors but Tehran has refused to accept Russian demands that it reinstate a moratorium on nuclear research.

The United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meets Monday to consider a report which could lead to Iran being referred to the UN Security Council and sanctions being adopted.

"In any event ... the world would do well to start now to get used to the idea of coexisting with an Iranian nuclear power," the report advised.

The report's authors said a nuclear-armed Iran would negatively affect Russian security but that the consequences "will not be catastrophic as long as the Iranian regime is stable".

Tehran would not use these nuclear weapons, the experts forecast. Nor would it pass on nuclear know-how, either to other countries or to extremist organisations, they said.

But some of the experts feared that if Iran acquired a nuclear weapon that could "encourage other countries in the region -- Saudi Arabia or Egypt -- to create an Arab bomb."

They thought "there was little chance that the United States would carry out strikes on Iranian territory in the near future."

But they were pessimistic about future developments in the region: the zone stretching from Afghanistan to North Africa will remain a major centre of "Islamist global terrorism" and at the same time the danger of the spread of weapons of mass destruction would continue growing.

"Many (states) are ready to relaunch their nuclear programme so as not to become another Iraq," the report says.

There are also warnings on the risks of destabilisation threatening initially "the Egypt-Sudan axis", Saudi Arabia, Iraq and above all Kurdish areas of Iraq, and Pakistan.

The governments in the region have run their course and for their peoples "radical Islamists appear the only alternative for change."

The authors of the report think that the more the United States pushes for democracy and free elections, the greater the chances Islamists will win power.

"Democratisation will lead to the disappearance of the remains of governability .. and the arrival of free elections in present conditions will inevitably bring radical Islamists to power."

The Russian experts believe that the presence of US forces in Iraq is a stabilising factor.

"An early departure from Iraq by the United States would risk bringing a serious destablisation of the whole region, intensifying activities by terrorists and would be directly opposed to Russia's interests."

Source: Agence France-Presse

related report

Iran Says Ready To Combat Electronic Warfare
Tehran, Iran (AFP) Mar 04 - Iran owns advanced technology in electronic warfare and can combat any such attacks on its military equipment, the head of defense ministry electronics industries said Saturday.

"If our main enemy wants to carry out electronic warfare and jamming operations, our standards are at the NATO level," Ebrahim Mahmoudzadeh said on state television.

He was also quoted as saying that Iran's radars, passive and active electronic protection "can combat anything that wants to harm us".

In recent months Israel has been dangling the threat of pre-emptive action to stop Iran's disputed nuclear program -- seen by the West as a mask for weapons development.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Inter Korean Military Talks Break Down Over Border Demand
Seoul, Korea (AFP) Mar 03, 2006
High-level military talks between South and North Korea broke down Friday over the North's demand that the Cold War rivals draw a new border in disputed waters in the Yellow Sea. "There was no agreement," the chief South Korean delegate Major General Han Min-Koo said, adding both sides failed even to set a date for the next meeting.

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