Iran Nuclear NewsNew U.N. watchdog head faces rising tension with Iran

New U.N. watchdog head faces rising tension with Iran


ImageReuters: The U.N. atomic watchdog's new chief will present a tougher approach to Iran at a meeting of member states starting on Monday where clashes loom over his suggestion Tehran may be trying to design a nuclear weapon. By Sylvia Westall

ImageVIENNA (Reuters) – The U.N. atomic watchdog's new chief will present a tougher approach to Iran at a meeting of member states starting on Monday where clashes loom over his suggestion Tehran may be trying to design a nuclear weapon.

Iran was likely to argue Yukiya Amano lacks competence and independence from Western powers, who want to impose harsher sanctions on Tehran, as tensions grow over its escalation of nuclear fuel enrichment and suspicions of illicit bomb research.

Amano, who took over from Mohamed ElBaradei in December, was seen distilling the tougher line contained in his February 18 report on Iran when he opens a week-long meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) governing board.

"The report is clearer and harsher in tone than those from ElBaradei. He will give a summary in the same tone as the report, no more, no less," said a European diplomat who like others asked for anonymity due to political sensitivities.

Amano's approach is important because the discussion at the 35-nation board in Vienna is expected to feed into deliberations on slapping harsher sanctions on Iran taking place among the six world powers at the level of the U.N. Security Council.

Some diplomats said Iran might try an unusual personal attack on Amano, suggesting the veteran Japanese diplomat is a lackey of the West, to deflect attention from his report's findings and try to rally developing nations behind it.

"(Iran) wanted to kick him as soon as the report was published. They will try and focus on the personal, not the substantial," said another European diplomat said.

Iran's foreign minister has already criticized Amano, particularly his suggestion that the Islamic Republic may be working on developing a nuclear-armed missile now, rather than having done so only in the past.

"Mr Amano is new to the job and clearly has a long way to go before he can reach the experience held by Mohammed ElBaradei," Manouchehr Mottaki told Iranian broadcaster Al Alam last week.

"The report was Amano's first and, like many other first reports, it was seriously flawed."

Western diplomats have praised the new director-general for what they see as his matter-of-fact treatment of the IAEA probe into "possible military dimensions" to Iran's nuclear activity.

Amano omitted Iran's repeated flat denials and denunciations of "forged" information and did not flag that the intelligence was not fully authenticated, as ElBaradei's reports often did.

"The Iran report shows what the 'Amano effect' means in practical terms: an IAEA staff unburdened and unleashed to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth," a senior Western diplomat said.


IAEA governors were not expected to rebuke Iran in a resolution as they did at their last meeting in November, when Iran was censured for hiding a uranium enrichment site.

But Western nations were likely to condemn it over an IAEA complaint that Iran had begun feeding low-enriched uranium (LEU) into centrifuges for higher refinement before inspectors could get to the scene at its Natanz pilot enrichment facility.

Iran said it started higher enrichment because it was frustrated at the collapse of an IAEA-backed plan for big powers to provide it with fuel rods for nuclear medicine made from uranium refined up to 20 percent purity.

Some diplomats also questioned why Iran had set aside the great bulk of its LEU stockpile for higher-scale enrichment when it lacks the technology to eventually convert it into fuel rods for the Tehran medical research reactor.

Iran's enrichment escalation has unnerved the West since advancing from 20 percent to the bomb-grade level of 90 percent purity would need only a few months, much faster than reaching the initial 3.5 percent stage suitable for power plants.

Iran has also told the IAEA it is building a production line at its uranium conversion plant in Isfahan to turn powder derived from LEU into uranium metal, raising concerns because this material has both weapons and civilian energy applications.

IAEA governors will also assess a separate Amano report voicing suspicion that Syria engaged in covert nuclear work at a desert site bombed by Israel in 2007 because uranium particles were found there by U.N. inspectors in June the following year. Syria has rebuffed IAEA requests for follow-up investigation.

(Additional reporting by Mark Heinrich; Editing by Noah Barkin)

Latest news

Requirements for a Simple Life in Iran; the Unattainable Dream

It is no exaggeration to say that Iran's economy is in a major freefall. All economic indicators are suggesting...

Sale of Iran’s Historical Items; Is There Anything Left To Sell?

Some of the members of the Iranian regime’s parliament have submitted a plan on the 'optimal use of antiquities...

Iran: Bread Protests Are on Way, Stronger Than Gas Protests

Observers in Iran believe that nationwide protests and uprisings are underway following the Iranian regime’s decision to increase the...

Iran: Tax Pressure on the People and Exemption for the ‘Super Rich’

In a critical situation where most of the Iranian regime’s officials and media outlets are warning its leaders to...

Iran’s Regime and Its Expertise in Reversing the Truth

In order to get an insight into the Iranian regime’s real behavior and culture, you first need to analyze...

Capital Outflow Intensified in Iran

One of the current major crises in Iran’s economy is the capital outflow, which is implemented by the regime’s...

Must read

Iran dismisses US Iraq report and wants serious talks

AFP: Iran on Wednesday dismissed the latest US strategy...

Clashes erupt in Iran capital after bus drivers’ protest

Iran Focus: Tehran, Iran, Jan. 28 – Clashes erupted...

You might also likeRELATED
Recommended to you