The United States broke its relative
silence on the IAEA report
during a Wednesday State Department press
State Department Spokesman Mark Toner said Washington would
“consult [with allies and partners] and look at ways to impose additional
pressure on Iran.”RELATED:
PM: Iranian nukes endanger Mideast, world peace
Iran says it wants 'respectful' negotiations
In the most critical
and damning report of Iran’s nuclear program to date, the International Atomic
Energy Agency (IAEA) said Tuesday the Islamic Republic was working to develop a
nuclear-weapon design and was conducting extensive research and tests that could
only be relevant for such a weapon.
Although Toner did not join in explicit European calls
for increased sanctions, he did say that “a range of options” was
“I don’t want to rule anything out, or anything in,” Toner
The spokesman said the report, which was officially
distributed to IAEA member states, contains “very serious allegations, serious
charges – and it’s incumbent on Iran to at last engage with the IAEA in a
credible and transparent manner to address these concerns.”
The US has
remained close-lipped on the report, arguing it is considered a classified
document, but confirming Iran will be an agenda item at a meeting of the IAEA
Board of Governors scheduled for November 18.
Western powers called Wednesday for expanded sanctions against Iran over a UN
watchdog report that it has worked to design atomic bombs.
But both China
and Russia came down on the side of Iran, with veto-wielder Russia indicating it
would block new measures at the UN Security Council.
French Foreign Minister
Alain Juppe said “convening of the UN Security Council is called
Pressure must be intensified, he told RFI radio, after years of
Iranian defiance of UN resolutions demanding it halt uranium enrichment, which
can yield nuclear fuel for power stations or weapons.
“If Iran refuses to
conform to the demands of the international community and refuses any serious
cooperation, we stand ready to adopt, with other willing countries, sanctions on
an unprecedented scale,” Juppe said.
During a 90-minute meeting he held
with the World Jewish Congress at the Elysée Palace in Paris, French President
Nicolas Sarkozy promised to stand with Israel against Iran, according to sources
from the gathering who spoke with The Jerusalem Post
“Israel has no
better security partner than France when it comes to Iran,” Sarkozy assured the
Jewish leaders, according to the sources.
The head of the World Jewish
Congress, Ronald S. Lauder, asked Sarkozy to push for unprecedented sanctions
against the Iranian regime to prevent it from acquiring nuclear
Sarkozy responded positively to Lauder, the sources
France has always taken a tough stance against Iran’s nuclear program and favors “seriously ratcheting up sanctions”
against the country, Sarkozy said, according to the sources.
the best way to avert a nuclear Iran, he said, but at the same time he implied a
military option was on the table. He was very vague about France’s position with
regard to a military option, but had a clear reaction to media reports that
Israel might independently strike Iran’s nuclear facilities.
leader said it would be a mistake for Israel to unilaterally attempt a military
strike against Iran. Such a strike “would be disastrous,” Sarkozy
Britain said the standoff was entering a more dangerous phase and
the risk of conflict would increase if Iran does not negotiate.
Security Council has already imposed four rounds of sanctions on Tehran since
2006 over its nuclear program, which Western countries suspect is being used to
develop weapons, but Iran says is purely peaceful.
There has been concern
that if world powers cannot close ranks on isolating Iran to nudge it into
serious talks, then Israel will attack it, precipitating a Middle East
Israel decided following the publication of the report to tone
down its diplomatic rhetoric on Iran.
“The IAEA report corroborates the
position of the international community, and of Israel, that Iran is developing
nuclear weapons,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a short
“The significance of the report is that the international
community must bring about the cessation of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons,
which endangers the peace of the world and of the Middle East.”
Wednesday vehemently criticized the IAEA report, saying it contained no new
evidence and was being used to undercut efforts to reach a diplomatic
Sharpening opposition to any new sanctions against Iran in the
Security Council, where Russia has veto power, senior diplomats said further
punitive measures would be “destructive” and urged a revival of talks between
Tehran and global powers.
The Russian remarks came during a visit by a
senior Iranian official for talks on the program, which Tehran says is peaceful
but the US and its allies fear is aimed at developing the capability to build
“According to our initial evaluations, there is no
fundamentally new information in the report,” the Foreign Ministry said in a
statement. “We are talking about a compilation of known facts, given a
politicized tone,” it said – adding that interpretations of the report brought
to mind the use of faulty intelligence to seek support for the US-led invasion
of Iraq in 2003.
Earlier, in a barrage of Russian comments on Iran,
Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said any new sanctions “will be seen in
the international community as an instrument for regime change in Tehran,”
Interfax reported. “That approach is unacceptable to us, and the Russian side
does not intend to consider such proposals.”
Russia’s pointman for Iran
diplomacy, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov, said Moscow opposed
“strengthening sanctions pressure on Iran” and is trying to bring other nations
in line with that stance, Itar-Tass reported.
“We are showing them the
faulty and destructive nature of that policy,” Ryabkov said.
like Russia signed up to limited UN sanctions, also rebuffed Western proposals
for measures that could seriously curtail energy and trade ties with the Islamic
Iran is the third-largest supplier of crude oil to China, and
overall bilateral trade between the two grew by 58 percent in the first nine
months of 2011, according to Beijing data.
Foreign Ministry Spokesman
Hong Lei said China was studying the IAEA report and reiterated a call to
resolve the row through talks. In a commentary, China’s official Xinhua news
agency said the UN watchdog still “lacks a smoking gun.”
“There are no
witnesses or physical evidence to prove that Iran is making nuclear weapons,” it
said. “In dealing with the Iran nuclear issue, it is extremely dangerous to rely
on suspicions, and the destructive consequences of any armed action would endure
for a long time.”
When a huge thunderstorm rattled windows across Tehran
late on Sunday, some of the Iranian capital’s residents awoke thinking Israel
was finally making good on its threat to attack.
But a day after the IAEA
report, ordinary Iranians were sanguine and said, if anything, they feared
tougher sanctions more than a possible war.
“What I’m worrying about is
more sanctions on airlines,” said Nahal, a 26-year-old office manager in
A US measure that prevents Iran importing airplanes or spare
parts is one of the more talked-about of the growing range of sanctions it
faces. Iranians say it has unfairly hit civilians by contributing to air crashes
and a general fear about airline safety, particularly on domestic flights.