Washington — The head of the international nuclear watchdog agency says Iran isn’t cooperating in the investigation of substantial evidence that the country has military dimensions to its nuclear program — and President Obama says that could mean more sanctions.
“Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable the agency to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities,” Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told the IAEA Board of Governors at the start of a weeklong meeting June 6 in Vienna.
Iran has said that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, but the United States and other countries have challenged that assertion. Iran is under international sanctions for failing to meet what Amano called “all relevant obligations in order to establish international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program.”
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said at a news conference June 7 in Tehran that despite Amano’s comments, there is nothing the international community can put forward to induce Iran to cease enriching uranium.
China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States have expressed disappointment after previous meetings with Iran over its nuclear program. Following a White House meeting June 7 with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Obama told reporters: “We agreed that Iran’s continuing nuclear program and its refusal to engage in any meaningful talks with the international community remain a very serious concern. So we agreed that if the International Atomic Energy Agency this week determines again that Iran is continuing to ignore its international obligations, then we will have no choice but to consider additional steps, including potentially additional sanctions, to intensify the pressure on the Iranian regime.”
Amano referred to a report submitted by IAEA experts to the board a week earlier. It raised questions on whether Iran has been working on technology necessary to build nuclear warheads. Iran has denied pursuing that technology. Amano said the evidence suggests “the existence of possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program. There are indications that certain of these activities may have continued until recently.”
Amano also said the IAEA has concluded that a secret site in Dair Alzour, Syria — destroyed by an Israeli bombing raid in 2007 — “was a nuclear reactor which should have been declared to the agency.”
“It is deeply regrettable that the facility was destroyed — allegedly by Israel — without the agency having been given an opportunity to perform its verification role. Rather than force being used, the case should have been reported to the IAEA,” Amano said.