Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned on Friday that Iran’s nuclear drive was
accelerating and that Tehran had failed to heed the international call to stop
He spoke on the same day that the International Atomic
Energy Agency said it failed to strike a deal with Iran, which aimed at allaying
concerns about suspected nuclear weapons research by Tehran, a setback in
efforts to resolve the standoff diplomatically before any Israeli or US military
In Jerusalem, Netanyahu said, “Just yesterday, we received
additional proof of the fact that Iran is continuing to make accelerated
progress toward achieving nuclear weapons while totally ignoring international
Netanyahu made his comments as he met with US Rep. Mike Rogers
(R-Michigan), who is visiting the region.
On Thursday, diplomatic sources
said Iran had installed many more uranium enrichment centrifuges at its Fordow
While the new machines are not yet operating, the move
reaffirmed Iranian defiance of international demands on it to suspend enrichment
and may strengthen the Israeli belief that toughened sanctions and concerted
diplomacy are failing to make the Islamic Republic change course.
discussions today were intensive, but important differences remain between Iran
and the UN that prevented agreement,” Herman Nackaerts, the IAEA’s chief
inspector, told journalists after about seven hours of talks with an Iranian
delegation in Vienna. “At the moment we have no plans for another meeting.”
Little headway appeared to
have been made on the IAEA’s most urgent request – access for its inspectors to
the Parchin military site where the agency believes Iran has performed
explosives tests relevant for developing a nuclear weapons
Iran’s ambassador to the Viennabased IAEA, Ali Asghar
Soltanieh, said that “undoubtedly some progress.” was made. Differences
remained, however, “because it is a very complex issue.”
to national security of a member state are something very delicate,” the veteran
Iranian diplomat said. “But I have to say that we are moving forward... and we
are going to continue this process so that we at the end of the day will have a
framework agreed [upon] by both sides.”
Soltanieh had said before the
talks began: “Both sides are trying to bridge the gap.”
sources who revealed the expansion of centrifuge capacity at Fordow also said
satellite imagery indicated Iran had used a brightly colored tent-like structure
to cover a building at Parchin, increasing concern about a possible removal of
evidence of illicit past nuclear work there.
In Washington, an official
of President Barack Obama’s administration said the new centrifuges, while
concerning, would not significantly change the amount of time Iran would need to
“break out” of its treaty obligations and build a nuclear device. “This work...
does not build confidence in their intent and it further demonstrates their
failure to fulfill their obligations,” the official said, speaking on condition
of anonymity. “But it is also not a game-changer.”
Asked about the
outcome of the Vienna meeting, a Western diplomat accredited to the IAEA said:
“As dismal as expected.”
Iran, the world’s No. 5 oil exporter, insists it
wants nuclear energy for more electricity to serve a rapidly growing population,
not nuclear weapons, and has threatened wideranging reprisals if
Nackaerts said before the meeting that the broader goal was a
deal on greater, overall inspector access to answer the UN watchdog’s questions
about possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.
It was the
first meeting between the two sides since discussions in early June petered out
inconclusively, dashing previous hopes that an accord might be on the
Friday’s talks were separate from Tehran’s negotiations with six
world powers that have made little progress since resuming in April after a 15-
month hiatus, but the focus on suspicions about Iran’s nuclear ambitions means
they are closely linked.
Washington has said there is still time for
diplomatic pressure to work in pressing Iran to curb its enrichment program,
which is the immediate priority of the six powers – the United States, Britain,
Russia, China, France and Germany.
Tehran’s refusal to limit and open up
its atomic activity to unfettered IAEA inspections, which could determine
whether it truly is purely peaceful, has led to harsher punitive sanctions and
louder talk about military action.
Western diplomats had expected no
breakthrough on Friday but said Iran could offer a concession to inspectors –
who want access to sites, officials and documents – in hopes of blunting their
quarterly report on Iran that is due this week.
In so doing, Iran would
also seek to deflect a planned Western move to have the 35-nation IAEA board of
governors, meeting next month, formally rebuke Tehran over its failure to
cooperate with the agency’s inquiry.
Any Iranian concession should
therefore be treated with skepticism, one diplomat accredited to the IAEA
The IAEA’s immediate priority remains access to Parchin, even
though Western diplomats say it may now have been purged of any evidence of
nuclear weapons research, possibly carried out a decade ago.
satellite images, diplomats said last week that Iran has demolished some small
buildings and moved earth at Parchin.
Diplomatic sources said the
building believed to be housing an explosives chamber – if it is still there –
had been “wrapped” with scaffolding and tarpaulin, hiding any sanitization or
other activity there from satellite cameras.
Iran says Parchin, about 30
southeast of Tehran, is a conventional military facility and has
dismissed allegations aired about it as “ridiculous.”
It says a broad
framework agreement for how the IAEA should conduct its inquiry is needed before
possibly allowing access to Parchin.