'Sanctions may not be enough'

Israeli UN envoy, Gabriela Shalev expects weak resolution against Iran won't halt nukes.

April 1, 2010 03:57
4 minute read.
Nuclear Power plant [illustrative]

Nuclear Power plant 311 AP. (photo credit: AP [illustrative])


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The sanctions against Iran that are being drafted in cooperation with China are unlikely to be severe enough to bring a halt in its nuclear program, Israel's Ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev said Thursday morning on Army Radio.

Earlier a US intelligence report updated Iran had both made gains and suffered setbacks in a nuclear program that gives Teheran the possibility of building nuclear weapons, even though it has not moved decisively toward that goal.

“We continue to assess Iran is keeping open the option to develop nuclear weapons, though we do not know whether Teheran eventually will decide to produce nuclear weapons,” states the Central Intelligence Agency report, provided to Congress by the office of the director of national intelligence and posted recently on the DNI Web site.

“Iran continues to develop a range of capabilities that could be applied to producing nuclear weapons, if a decision is made to do so,” the report says.

According to a Reuters report Wednesday night,  six world powers, including China, have agreed to start drawing up new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.

Representatives of the US, Britain, France and Germany were said to have reached agreement with Beijing and Moscow during a conference call.

An unnamed source with knowledge of the talks said, “It has been agreed with China to start drawing up sanctions on Iran. Drawing up of a Security Council resolution is to begin in the next few days.”

The State Department confirmed Wednesday that the six world powers had held a conference call to continue ongoing discussions on the crafting of another UN Security Council resolution against Iran.

“We’re in a period of intense diplomatic engagement on this issue, and this call was within that context,” said acting deputy spokesman for the State Department Mark Toner, who described the call as concerned with “consultations on next steps.”

However, he pushed back against the idea that this meant a draft text for a Security Council resolution was circulating.

“I don’t think we’re there yet, but as the president said yesterday, we’re working hard on the pressure track and moving forward with speed and determination,” he said.

Mathew Burrows, counselor to the US National Intelligence Council, told a Washington foreign press briefing that when it came to whether Teheran would move toward creating a nuclear bomb, the US intelligence agencies “continue to judge that Iran takes a cost-benefit approach in its nuclear decision-making. We judge that this offers the intelligence community – the international community – opportunities to influence Teheran’s decision-making.”

He did not specify what measures informed the decision-making process, but pointed to the US State Department as the agency working to influence that process.

In the meantime, he said, “we continue to assess that Iran has a scientific, technical and industrial capacity to produce enough highly enriched uranium for a weapon in the next few years if it chooses to do so, and eventually to produce nuclear weapons. The central issue is a decision to do so.”

The assessment provided to Congress, which covers international efforts to acquire WMD and advanced conventional capabilities over the course of 2009, contrasts with that of the National Intelligence Estimate of 2007, which judged that Iran had halted its nuclear weapons program.

The controversial 2007 NIE findings contradicted Israeli and other estimates. A revised estimate is expected to come out in the near future.

The new assessment found that “Iran continued to expand its nuclear infrastructure and continued uranium enrichment and activities related to its heavy water research reactor.”

But it added, “Although Iran made progress in expanding its nuclear infrastructure during 2009, some obstacles slowed progress during this period.” The nature of the obstacles was not specified.

The report also noted Iranian progress in its ballistic missile program and its capability of producing chemical and potentially biological warfare agents.

The recent findings also addressed the continued nuclear ties between Iran, North Korea and Syria. It singled out Syria for having “engaged for more than a decade in a covert nuclear program with North Korean assistance.”

Noting that the reactor being built by that covert program had been destroyed in September 2007 – widely reported as having been done by Israel – and that Syria had gone to “great lengths to try to eradicate evidence of its existence,” the report labels Damascus “generally uncooperative” with international investigators.

“The covert nature of the program, the characteristics of the reactor, and Syria’s extreme efforts to deny and destroy evidence of the reactor after its destruction are inconsistent with peaceful nuclear applications,” the report states, adding that the country already had a stockpile of chemical warfare agents on hand.

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