Video: Inside Iranian nuclear site

updated 6/3/2005 7:31:28 PM ET 2005-06-03T23:31:28

TEHRAN, Iran — Iran is so determined to arouse national pride in its nuclear efforts it has released a surprisingly detailed video that NBC News was able to purchase. It shows, complete with music and a dramatic narration, a very sophisticated operation — from uranium mining to the controversial big plant in Natanz, south of Tehran.

"This video clearly gives the impression that Iran sees its nuclear program as a national treasure, that it's going to be very resistant to give up," says David Albright, the president of the Institute for Science and International Security. "It's not. It's a little bit like asking Britain to give up the crown jewels."

It is this Iranian determination to be part of the nuclear club that has the West so concerned. Uranium can be enriched for a weapons program, and Great Britain, France and Germany met last week in Geneva with Iranian officials in an effort to control Iran's efforts — so they don't lead to nuclear weapons.

President Bush remains skeptical.

"They're not to be trusted when it comes to uranium or highly enriching uranium," said Bush at a news conference on May 31."Therefore, our policy is to prevent them from having the capacity to develop enriched uranium to the point where they're able to make a nuclear weapon."

Iranian students may not like the personal oppression of Iran's political system, but they like the idea of nuclear weapons.

"It's a right for us," says one.

I asked another student if Iran should develop nuclear weapons.

"Of course," he told me. "Why not? We want to become famous in the world."

American nuclear experts examining the Iranian video purchased by NBC News agree that Iran has an advanced system and the video shows equipment they've never seen before.

"You can see what looks like a gas centrifuge cascade," says Albright as he watches the video. "There is a lot of piping and then through the pipes it looks like what you can see is the centrifuges. And there's not been public photos of that pilot plant before."

Iran continues to insist this is all for peaceful purposes, for nuclear energy, not weapons. But Iran is one of the richest countries in the world when it comes to oil and gas, so why does it need nuclear power as well?

That's a question that goes well beyond a promotional video.

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