AFP: There are “an alarming number of unresolved questions about Iran’s nuclear program,” which the United States claims hides atomic weapons development, US ambassador Jackie Sanders told the UN atomic agency Wednesday. Sanders said Iran had continued to deny UN inspectors “the transparency and cooperation they need to perform their duties” and that Tehran was “cynically” manipulating “the nuclear nonproliferation regime in the pursuit of nuclear weapons.” AFP
By Michael Adler
VIENNA – There are “an alarming number of unresolved questions about Iran’s nuclear program,” which the United States claims hides atomic weapons development, US ambassador Jackie Sanders told the UN atomic agency Wednesday.
Sanders said Iran had continued to deny UN inspectors “the transparency and cooperation they need to perform their duties” and that Tehran was “cynically” manipulating “the nuclear nonproliferation regime in the pursuit of nuclear weapons.”
Sanders, who is based in Geneva but heads the US delegation to the 35-nation board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the United States wants the IAEA to bring Iran before the UN Security Council.
“The Security Council has the authority to require that Iran take all necessary corrective measures, including those steps called for by the (IAEA) board that Iran has failed to take,” Sanders said.
She said these included “the authority to require and enforce a suspension of Iran’s enrichment-related and reprocessing activities.”
Sanders said IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei should report to the agency’s board ahead of its next meeting in June, after not having reported to the current meeting, as this would clear the way to action against Iran if necessary.
ElBaradei had said Monday that Iran must do more to assist IAEA inspections.
ElBaradei says that while the Islamic Republic hid sensitive nuclear activity for almost two decades, “the jury is still out” on whether Tehran is trying to develop atomic weapons.
Sanders was speaking the day after a report by IAEA deputy director Pierre Goldschmidt outlining key areas where Iran is refusing to cooperate with UN inspectors.
These include blocking a follow-up visit to the Parchin military facility where Washington charges Tehran is simulating testing of nuclear weapons.
Sanders said this was a “troubling example” of Iran failing to provide “full and prompt cooperation” to the IAEA, according to a copy of her speech made available to the press.
Sanders also said Iran had violated its pledge to suspend uranium enrichment that was undertaken in order to prove it is not interested in making nuclear weapons by continuing to manufacture a uranium powder that is a key, first part of the enrichment process.
Highly enriched uranium, refined by centrifuges, can be fuel for nuclear reactors but also the explosive core of atomic bombs.
Iran was allowed to make uranium tetrafluoride (UF4) powder as it had to clear uranium yellowcake ore it had loaded into machines before the suspension began November 22 but Sanders said this was a sign of Iran going “out of its way to press the limits of the suspension commitment.”
Britain, France and Germany, which agreed with Iran on the enrichment suspension and want Tehran to make this permanent in return for trade and security benefits, said in a statement to the board that “Iran has carried out operations of cleaning and quality control on certain centrifuge components, which has caused us serious concern.”
The European trio said they understood the suspension “as a voluntary commitment to suspend all, meaning each and every, enrichment related activity, without exception. We urge Iran to keep to this voluntary commitment.”
Iran said Tuesday that its suspenion was temporary and that it would not yield on its right and intentions to make nuclear fuel in its talks with the Europeans.
“Fuel production is something we intend to do,” said Cyrus Nasseri, who is heading the Iranian delegation at the IAEA meeting.
He said giving up uranium enrichment “is not on the table and it will not be on the table and it should not be on the table.”
Sanders meanwhile said that Iran’s continued building of a heavy water research reactor which can make weapons-grade plutonium, despite an IAEA resolution asking Tehran to refrain from this “as a further confidence-building measure,” raised serious concerns, especially since the IAEA has not visited the site at Arak since the resolution was passed last September.