New Data Hints at Iranian Nuke Efforts: Amano

(Jun. 6) -A technician works in 2007 at Iran's Isfahan uranium conversion facility. The International Atomic Energy Agency has obtained information suggesting that past Iranian nuclear efforts included military dimensions, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said on Monday (Behrouz Mehri/Getty Images).
(Jun. 6) -A technician works in 2007 at Iran's Isfahan uranium conversion facility. The International Atomic Energy Agency has obtained information suggesting that past Iranian nuclear efforts included military dimensions, IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano said on Monday (Behrouz Mehri/Getty Images).

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano on Monday said his organization had obtained data on operations that suggest Iran's atomic activities included weapons-related elements, Reuters reported (see GSN, June 3).

The U.N. nuclear watchdog has acquired "further information related to possible past or current undisclosed nuclear related activities that seem to point to the existence of possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program," Amano told his agency's 35-country Board of Governors, without discussing the data's origin. "There are indications that certain of these activities may have continued until recently," he added in prepared remarks.

His statement implies that Iran's continued refusal to adequately address IAEA concerns could prompt the Vienna-based agency to issue an independent evaluation of the probability that the Middle Eastern nation has pursued atomic activities aimed at weapons development, Western nation envoys said. Such an assessment could lay the groundwork for further punitive action against the nation, Reuters reported. Tehran has insisted its nuclear program has no military component (Dahl/Westall, Reuters, June 6).

Washington and its partners have urged the agency to assert that Iran once conducted a nuclear arms development operation and is still moving forward with associated initiatives, the Financial times reported on Sunday.

“Many countries, including the U.S., have urged the International Atomic Energy Agency to draw some conclusions,” a high-level Obama administration official said. “In the absence of real cooperation and real transparency, the agency will have no choice on Iran but to proceed with its own assessment” (Dombey/Blitz, Financial Times, June 5).

The U.N. organization in recent years has probed Western data suggesting Tehran has studied high-altitude explosives, uranium processing and modifying a missile cone to accommodate a nuclear warhead, Reuters reported.

Amano on Monday described "reiterating the agency's concerns about the existence of possible military dimensions" in a May written communication to Iranian Atomic Energy Organization head Fereidoun Abbasi. He recounted pressing Tehran in the document to "provide prompt access" to facilities, systems, records and personnel to aid his agency in satisfying its concerns.

Amano suggested Iran's reply did not meet his expectations, and said on June 3 he sent Abbasi another message "in which I reiterated the agency's requests to Iran."

Tehran has not productively addressed the matters in roughly three years, the IAEA chief said, adding the government was "not providing the necessary cooperation to enable the agency to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran."

"I urge Iran to take steps towards the full implementation of all relevant obligations in order to establish international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of its nuclear program," Amano said (Dahl/Westall, Reuters).

Abbasi's response to Amano denies that Iran is seeking a nuclear deterrent and presses the U.N. nuclear watchdog to conclude its probe into Tehran's purported nuclear-weapon development efforts, the Xinhua News Agency quoted Iran's envoy to the U.N. nuclear watchdog as saying on Sunday.

"In (Abbasi's) letter, the IAEA director general has been asked to declare the alleged studies closed. And if this matter is declared and Iran's (nuclear) dossier is returned to normal status, Iran is ready to cooperate on any (new) question and accusation," Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh told Iran's Mehr News Agency.

Iran in a 118-page report showed that the studies had no basis in truth, Soltanieh said. The Persian Gulf nation in 2007 agreed to address the studies as part of a schedule for actions intended to clarify Tehran's nuclear ambitions (see GSN, Aug. 22, 2007; Xinhua News Agency I, June 5).

Meanwhile, the ambiguous nature of Israeli restrictions on trade with Iran has complicated a dispute over an Israeli firm's alleged sale of a petroleum transport vessel to Jerusalem's regional rival, Time magazine reported on Sunday. The United States last month targeted Ofer Brothers and six other non-U.S. firms suspected of helping to supply gasoline or other petroleum goods to the Middle Eastern nation (Karl Vick, Time, June 5).

Elsewhere, an Iranian army official on Tuesday said his nation was ready to defend itself from computer-based strikes, Iran's Press TV reported (see GSN, April 18).

"Iran's army like other armies is ready to take part in cyber space and counter any cyber attack," Iranian Brig. Gen. Ahmad-Reza Pourdastan said. "The instruments required for the presence in cyber space are being prepared by the Defense Industries of the Islamic Republic of Iran" (Press TV, June 6).

June 6, 2011
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International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano on Monday said his organization had obtained data on operations that suggest Iran's atomic activities included weapons-related elements, Reuters reported (see GSN, June 3).

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