IAEA wants nuclear answers from Iran

2012-01-28 22:02

Vienna - Senior UN nuclear inspectors headed to Tehran on Saturday to press Iranian officials to address suspicions that the Islamic state is seeking atomic weapons.

The UN International Atomic Energy Agency hopes Iran, which has indicated readiness to discuss the issue for the first time since 2008, will end years of stonewalling on intelligence pointing to an intention to develop nuclear arms technology.

"We are trying ... to resolve all the outstanding issues with Iran, in particular we hope that Iran will engage with us on our concerns regarding the possible military dimensions of Iran's nuclear programme," IAEA deputy director general Herman Nackaerts told reporters as he prepared to depart from Vienna airport.

But Western diplomats, who have often accused Iran of using such offers of dialogue as a stalling tactic while it presses ahead with its nuclear programme, say they doubt Tehran will show the kind of concrete co-operation the IAEA wants.

They say Iran may offer limited concessions and transparency in an attempt to ease intensifying international pressure on the country, a major oil producer, but that this is unlikely to amount to the full cooperation that is required.

The outcome could determine whether Iran will face further international isolation, or whether there are prospects for resuming wider talks between Tehran and the major powers on the nuclear dispute that has sparked fears of war.

The United States and its allies suspect the programme has military aims, but Tehran says is for peaceful electricity generation.

"The chances of the IAEA's success may depend on how badly Iran wants to avoid harder sanctions," said nuclear expert Mark Hibbs of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.


Remarks by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's top adviser on international affairs on Saturday suggested Iran was not in the mood for concessions.

"Iran's stance towards its nuclear issue has not changed in term of fundamentals and principles," Ali Akbar Velayati said, according to the ISNA news agency.

"One important principle is that Iran would not relinquish or withdraw from its peaceful nuclear activities."

The six-member IAEA team of senior officials and experts, headed by Nackaerts, was due to arrive in Tehran early on Sunday.

The three day visit comes at a time of soaring tension between Iran and the West. The IAEA issued a report in November with details of suspected research and development activities in Iran relevant to nuclear weapons.

The West has seized on the report to ratchet up sanctions aimed at Iran's lifeblood oil exports. Iran hit back on Friday warning it may halt oil exports to Europe next week .

'Appearing to co-operate'

The IAEA team is expected to seek explanations to the issues raised in the report, including information that Iran appears to have worked on a nuclear weapon design, and demand access to sites, officials and documents relevant to the agency's probe.

The IAEA says Iran, which has rejected the allegations as forged and baseless, has not engaged with the agency in a substantive way on these issues since August 2008 and that it keeps receiving intelligence data adding to its concerns.

"There were a huge number of questions raised by the November report. They will be seeking to answer those questions, and it's incumbent on Iran to be supportive," US state department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said this week.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano has called on Iran to show a "constructive spirit" in the meeting and Iran has said it is willing to discuss "any issues" of interest to the UN agency, including the military-linked concerns.

Iran's Press TV state television said on its website the IAEA visit was aimed at bolstering co-operation between the two sides "by resolving ambiguities", language Tehran has also used in the past.

The English-language station cited Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, as saying the main objective was to "thwart plots by enemies who are levelling unfounded allegations" against Iran and to prove its nuclear transparency.

Hibbs said Amano would want to see a "significant step" from Iran, for example by agreeing to more intrusive IAEA inspections or by explaining issues related to the weapons suspicions.

"I'm not very optimistic," Hibbs said. "Iran's track record is of appearing to cooperate whenever they are threatened by penalties."

  • Jean-Marc - 2012-01-28 22:11

    Screw the US and UK! They have their own nuclear weapons, why can't the rest of the world have their own? One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter so where can one actually draw the line?! Sounds like a typical western "do as I say not as I do" scenario!If Iran is to stop its pursuit of nuclear weapons, then all UN nations should abandon theirs!!!!

      Irene - 2012-01-28 22:55


      Adam - 2012-01-28 23:13

      usa and uk and the rest of the nations are allowed to have these weapons the same way reasonable people are allowed to own a gun. crazy delusional maniacs on the other hand are kept away from guns because it spells bad news for all the innocent people who are going to get hurt. if you disagree with my analogy you're an idiot.

      Adrian Jacobs - 2012-01-29 00:13

      I agree. Israel has more nuclear weapons than Great Britain and they haven't allowed the IAEA inspectors into their country since never. Im getting sick and tired of this hypocrisy. The US,UK, Israel should just mind their own business. I hope Russia and China steps in soon before the situation gets out of hand.

      Anthony - 2012-01-29 00:37

      @Jean-Marc, Adrian-Jacops In theory, you are quite right. IT IS NOT FAIR !! But in reality it are CRAZY thoughts. The world CANNOT afford ANY further countries to have nuclear weapons. It does not matter which country, and what political system , and which ideology they might have, THEY MUST BE STOPPED BY WHATEVER MEANS. The chances that these new nuclear weapons will be used , or end up in the hands of a radical/extreme group, is just too large. Instead we should continue, to encourage and pressurize countries with excisting nuclear weapons to distroy them. For otherwise, there won't be a planet for our children and grand children to live on !!!!!!!!!!!

      Jaba - 2012-01-29 01:24

      none of the western countries you listed adrian are continuously calling for the destruction of a member state in the United Nations. Iran is dangerous, promising death & destruction to 'infidels' and all while going nuclear.

      Nick - 2012-01-29 03:12

      Lets get it over and done with and be very clear about this. The USA, Israel and the lunatics AIPAC want war, period. If was was in Irans shoes I sure as hell would want a nuclear to keep the leftist yankee and jewish war mongers of my back. Neiter one has a good track record of minding their own business. If you have the patience watch the WHOLE story. And this is just a small part of the USA historic meddling

      Hotkop - 2012-01-29 08:52

      Adrian Jacobs is a marxist.

      Barry - 2012-01-29 12:01

      @Jean-Marc... You are 100% correct. Could not have put it better myself. Only to add. It is the marauding USA and its greed for oil that are the reasons for the good probability of war starting.

  • ISO - 2012-01-29 07:25

    If Iran has nothing to hide, why do they not cooperate with the nuclear watchdog and other institutes? It clearly shows that they do have something to hide or just buying time!

  • Jerzy - 2012-01-29 12:32

    So the sole criteria for being excluded from the nuclear weapons club is calling for the destruction of a member state? Well, actions speak louder than words, and some member states have waged wars based on fabricated fairy tales and because of this war mongering ways, has only known 21 years of peace in over 300 years of existence. To the ignorant out there, please research what David Ben Gurion said about the Palestinians and their existence, and by your very own criteria, Israel should also be excluded from nuclear weapon possession.

      Anthony - 2012-01-29 15:13

      @Jerzy, There is no debate of who did what or who said what, as there is no further country getting atomic weapons!!! Not only the West, but also Russia and China will see to that !!

      Barry - 2012-01-29 18:56

      @Anthony. Don't forget North Korea. It is proven that they already have Nukes. Yet they are allowed to have them. And why shouldn't they? The west agree too otherwise there would have bombed the country already. Do you agree? Why is that ?

      Anthony - 2012-01-29 19:22

      @Barry, It is doubtfull , the North Koreans have atomic weapons. Especially China and Japan will see to it , that this won't happen. And " why shouldn't they ? " Come on......stay serious !!! We all saw the total CRAZYNESS and INSANITY of this leadership with the death of Kim-Jong 11

      Barry - 2012-01-29 20:17

      @Anthony... Ha Ha.. I suggest you get serious. You are certainly not from Africa. GO IRAN !!

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