Iran has resumed operations at its Isfahan plant to enrich uranium ore for reactor fuel. The plant will convert yellowcake, or uranium ore, into uranium hexafluoride gas to be fed into centrifuges for uranium enrichment in the still-closed neighboring Natanz plant. Iran claims the program is purely for civilian purposes and is in compliance with the Non-Proliferation Treaty and International Atomic Energy Agency regulations. Gholam-Reza Aqazadeh, head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organizaiton (IAO), said that “the West must once and for all accept an atomic Iran.” (DPA, Aug. 10) The move comes despite an effort by the European Union to offer Iran aid and other incentives not to resume the enrichment program. (FT, Aug. 9) It should be noted that Iran is still a long way from being able to produce a nuclear weapon. Several kilograms of uranium-235 are needed to reach the critical mass for a nuclear explosion, which would have to be processed from several tons of uranium hexafluoride using equipment the country doesn’t currently have. (Nature.com, Aug. 8)
An Aug. 10 report on Aljazeera Magazine (not to be confused with the more reliable Al-Jazeera TV network) claims that Halliburton has secretly aided the Iran nuclear program:
Halliburton, the scandal-plagued oil company, that Vice President Dick Cheney used to run, sold an Iranian company key components for a nuclear reactor, Halliburton sources revealed…
Halliburton, which sells about $40 million a year worth of oil field services to the Iranian Government, was secretly aiding one of Iran’s top nuclear program officials on natural gas related projects and provided the official’s oil development company with the components last April, the sources said.
FARS, one of Iran’s many state controlled news agencies reported last month the arrest of several executives of the Oriental Oil Kish Company, which is owned by sons and other relatives of the defeated mullah presidential candidate Hashemi Rafsanjani, saying that the men were involved in widespread corruption of Iran’s oil industry, specifically tied to the country’s business dealings with Halliburton.
Halliburton…was working with Cyrus Nasseri, vice chairman of the board of directors of Oriental Oil Kish, on oil and natural gas development projects in Tehran, registered in the United Kingdom and Dubai. Nasseri, a key member of Iran’s nuclear development team, participated in Iran’s nuclear negotiating with the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency.
According to a report published by the Financial Times: “Nasseri, a senior Iranian diplomat negotiating with Europe over Iran’s nuclear program, is at the heart of deals with U.S. energy companies to develop the country’s oil industry”.
In late July, Nasseri was questioned for passing Iran’s nuclear secrets to Halliburton and receiving $1 million in bribes from the company, Iranian government officials said.
According to Iran Press News, a huge network of oil mafia was uncovered during investigations.
Halliburton sources revealed that the company sold Iran centrifuges and detonators to be used specifically for a nuclear reactor as well oil and natural gas drilling parts for well projects to Oriental Oil Kish.
Halliburton’s business with Oriental Oil Kish first surfaced in January, when the Iranian company said that it gave some contracts of the South Pars natural gas drilling project to Halliburton Products and Services, a subsidiary of Dallas-based Halliburton.
Later on, Halliburton said the South Pars gas field project in Iran will be the its last project in the country, “due to a poor business environment,” according to BBC.
In May and under mounting pressure from lawmakers in Washington, Halliburton decided to end its deals with Nasseri, but continued acting as an advisory capacity to his company.
Currently, the U.S. law doesn’t prohibit foreign subsidiaries from having business with what President Bush calls “rouge” nations as long as the subsidiaries are truly independent of the mother company.
But Halliburton’s Cayman Island subsidiary never did fit that description.
According to a February 2001 report in the Wall Street Journal, “Halliburton Products & Services Ltd. works behind an unmarked door on the ninth floor of a new north Tehran tower block. A brochure declares that the company was registered in 1975 in the Cayman Islands, is based in the Persian Gulf sheikdom of Dubai and is non-American. But, like the sign over the receptionist’s head, the brochure bears the company’s name and red emblem, and offers services from Halliburton units around the world.”