Stonewalling from Iran on military nuclear work, UN official says

The New York Times quotes Yukiya Amano, chief of the UN nuclear watchdog the IAEA, as saying that Iranian cooperation has not been forthcoming.

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November 1, 2014 15:26
4 minute read.
IAEA

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano . (photo credit: REUTERS)

Iran has failed to provide information sought by the International Atomic Energy Agency on suspected military dimensions to its nuclear program, a top UN official said this week.

Quoted in The New York Times, director-general of the IAEA Yukiya Amano said that Iran’s leadership had stopped answering questions on past efforts to weaponize nuclear material to build atomic bombs.

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Weaponization research is separate from the production of components required for a bomb. But Western intelligence agencies strongly suspect that Iran has conducted all necessary efforts simultaneously, including research and development into weaponization.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has reassured the UN agency tasked with collecting the data, and maintaining international standards on the proliferation of nuclear material, that his government is “willing to clarify ambiguities” discovered by the organization, Amano said.

“What is needed now is action,” Amano continued.

Past investigations revealed documents and intelligence suggesting extensive and advanced work on weaponization, including on detonation technologies.

IAEA investigators have requested entry into Parchin, a military complex around 30 km. from Tehran, suspected of hosting the country’s nuclear weapons file. The Security Council called on Iran to allow access to Parchin, but the IAEA has not been granted access to the site since 2005.

The United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany are negotiating with Iran toward a comprehensive agreement ending concerns with its nuclear program, including possible weaponization efforts. The deadline for those talks is November 24.

“We’re closer than we were a week ago, or ten weeks ago,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said on PBS’s Charlie Rose Show on Friday. “But we’re still with big gaps.”

“We’ll do our best,” he continued, “but we have to close off all pathways to a nuclear weapon, and we have to have enough breakout time in order to be able to guarantee the security of everybody who is concerned about this.”

In that interview, Kerry said that there would be high level meetings between the US and Iran in the coming weeks, including his meeting with its foreign minister on November 9.

Iran, he said, must halt four pathways to the production of nuclear weapons; the secret underground facility Fordow, the Natanz enrichment facility, the plutonium heavy water reactor Arak and continued covert activity.

Iran’s actions must be transparent, he said.

Kerry also dismissed the idea that Iran had more leverage in the talks because of its role in fighting ISIS.

“Let me use this program to deliver a very clear message to the Iranians, which is: This is not a political decision for us. This is a substantive decision based on the proof of a peaceful program. It’s not hard to prove your program is peaceful if that’s what you want to do. So outside leverage, Syria, ISIL, whatever, is not relevant to this. It’s not affecting us one way or the other. We have one set of criteria within our mind,” Kerry said.

“We’re looking to the Iranians to be as responsible as they have said they will be and as forthcoming as they have promised, which is to be transparent and allow the proof of this peaceful program,” he added.

Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said Amano’s charges against Iran were very serious and presented “the first indication that Iran had breached the interim agreement that was based on the understanding that Iran would fully cooperate with the IAEA.”

“Signing a final agreement [with Iran] under these conditions would be a reckless act that the [world] powers should refrain from.”

He added that “Iran’s refusal to disclose its nuclear past cast a heavy shadow of doubt on the future.”

A sufficient agreement can only be reached with such disclosure, Steinitz said.

An Israeli official said, “We have only seen the Iranians adopt cosmetic proposals with no real sign that they are willing to curtail their military nuclear program.”

In the interview with Charlie Rose, Kerry said that there would be high level meetings between the US and Iran in the coming weeks, including his meeting with its foreign minister on November 9.

Iran, he said, must halt four pathways to the production of nuclear weapons; the secret underground facility Fordow, the Natanz enrichment facility, the plutonium heavy water reactor Arak and continued covert activity.

Iran’s actions must be transparent, he said.

Kerry also dismissed the idea that Iran had more leverage in the talks because of its role in fighting ISIS.

“Let me use this program to deliver a very clear message to the Iranians, which is: This is not a political decision for us. This is a substantive decision based on the proof of a peaceful program. It’s not hard to prove your program is peaceful if that’s what you want to do. So outside leverage, Syria, ISIL, whatever, is not relevant to this. It’s not affecting us one way or the other. We have one set of criteria within our mind,” Kerry said.

“We’re looking to the Iranians to be as responsible as they have said they will be and as forthcoming as they have promised, which is to be transparent and allow the proof of this peaceful program,” he added.


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