Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Obama Seeks Chinese, Russian Backing on Iran
President Obama on Saturday sought backing from his Chinese and Russian counterparts in countering Iran's disputed atomic activities, but he received no open endorsement from either leader of a unified stance against the Middle Eastern state, the Associated Press reported (see GSN, Nov. 11).
Beijing and Moscow could block a potential push by Washington and other Western governments to adopt new U.N. Security Council penalties aimed at encouraging Iran to address international concerns over its nuclear program. The United States and its allies have accused Tehran of using its ostensibly peaceful atomic efforts to pursue a nuclear-weapon capability.
Speaking next to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Honolulu, Obama said he and his Russian equivalent "reaffirmed our intention to work to shape a common response" to Iran.
Obama then spoke with Chinese President Hu Jintao, and later said he and Hu wish to make sure that Tehran acts in accordance with "international rules and norms" (Ben Feller, Associated Press/Boston Globe, Nov. 13).
"What I did was to speak with President Medvedev as well as President Hu and the three of us entirely agree on the objective, which is making sure that Iran does not weaponize nuclear power and that we don't trigger a nuclear arms race in the region," Agence France-Presse quoted Obama as saying.
"In terms of how we move forward, we will be consulting with them carefully over the next several weeks," he said.
"The [existing] sanctions have enormous bite and enormous scope and we're building off a platform that has already been established," Obama said. "The question is are there additional measures that we can take, and we are going to explore every avenue to see if we can solve this issue diplomatically."
"We are not taking any options off the table because it is my firm belief that an Iran with nuclear weapons would pose a security threat not only to the region but also to the United States," he added in reference to possible military action (Agence France-Presse/Google News, Nov. 14).
Obama's statements were sufficiently vague to suggest a shared stance on Iran while avoiding a confirmation of any agreement on the issue, according to AP. Medvedev stated only that he had discussed Iran with Obama, while Hu issued no public statement on the matter.
White House officials later said Beijing and Moscow shared Washington's determination to prevent the emergence of a nuclear-armed Iran.
Recent assertions over Iran's atomic efforts necessitate multilateral action, deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes said (see GSN, Nov. 9). "I think the Russians and the Chinese understand that," he said. "We're going to be working with them to formulate that response."
Separately, GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney criticized Obama's strategy on Iran. "If we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon. And if you elect Mitt Romney, Iran will not have a nuclear weapon," the former Massachusetts governor said on Saturday (Feller, Associated Press I).
Obama responded on Sunday, AFP reported.
"Is this an easy issue? No," he said. "Anybody that claims it is ... either politicking or doesn't know what they're talking about."
"Not only the world but the Iranian regime understands very clearly how determined we are to prevent not only a nuclear Iran, but also a nuclear arms race in the region," Obama said (Agence France-Presse).
Top EU diplomats on Monday opted to postpone any new punitive steps against Iran until a Dec. 1 gathering, but a number of the officials voiced support for such measures, Reuters reported.
"The [European] Council will continue to examine possible new and reinforced measures and revert to this issue at its next meeting, taking into account Iran's action," the group said in a statement (Reuters I, Nov. 14).
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday said an International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards report issued last week does not comprehensively describe Iran's atomic activities.
"Iran is closer to getting an (atomic) bomb than is thought," Netanyahu told Israeli Cabinet members, according a representative of the prime minister. "Only things that could be proven were written (in the U.N. report), but in reality there are many other things that we see," the leader was quoted as saying (Ari Rabinovitch, Reuters II, Nov. 13).
Israel wants last week's IAEA report to result in new international penalties against Iran, but Jerusalem cannot be perceived as leading a push for further measures, the New York Times quoted government and independent sources as saying (Isabel Kershner, New York Times, Nov. 13).
Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said he believes "there's no longer any point making additional concessions."
"The nuclear question is simply a pretense for weakening us by any means possible," Salehi told Der Spiegel in remarks made public on Monday (Dieter Bednarz, Der Spiegel, Nov. 14).
Iranian legislators would begin in the near future a reassessment of Tehran's collaboration with the U.N. nuclear watchdog, Iran's Fars News Agency on Sunday quoted Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani as saying (Fars News Agency, Nov. 13).
Meanwhile, Iran indicated it was in the first stage of countering a possible successor to the "Duqu" computer virus, the London Telegraph reported. The virus was seen as a possible successor to the Stuxnet malware that previously hit components of the country's nuclear program (Richard Spencer, London Telegraph, Nov. 14).
Former U.S. House Speaker Newt Gingrich and other Republican presidential hopefuls on Saturday voiced support for clandestine efforts targeting Iran's atomic efforts, the Washington Post reported (Walter Pincus, Washington Post, Nov. 13).
Elsewhere, an unnamed diplomatic official said hundreds of Iranian and North Korean personnel have been carrying out joint nuclear and missile activities at more than 10 sites inside Iran, the Yonhap News Agency reported (Kim Kwang-tae, Yonhap News Agency, Nov. 14).
The Russian government-run atomic energy organization Rosatom is examining the potential for adding new generators at Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant, Interfax reported last week (Interfax, Nov. 10).
Feb. 14, 2013
A new brochure describes the origins and the work of the Nuclear Security Project.
Feb. 14, 2013
George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn laid out their vision of a world without nuclear weapons and the urgent, practical steps to get there in a groundbreaking series of co-authored Wall Street Journal op-eds.
This article provides an overview of Iran’s historical and current policies relating to nuclear, chemical, biological and missile proliferation.