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IAEA Mulls Solutions to Iran Nuclear Impasse

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano
Lisa Bryant

The head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog says Iran's nuclear program and its possible military dimensions remain a serious concern. International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano's remarks come as U.S. and Israeli leaders meet on Iran in Washington.

Speaking to the International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors Monday morning,  Amano described the agency's frustration in trying to shed light on Iran's nuclear program. Major outstanding issues remained, he said, despite two visits to Iran by nuclear inspectors in January and February.

"Despite intensive discussions, there's no agreement on a [structured] approach toward resolving these issues," Amano said. "Iran did not grant access to the Parchin site, as requested by the agency."

In a November report, the Vienna-based agency described suspicious tests at the Parchin site, consistent with developing a nuclear warhead. Amano also noted Iran continued to enrich nuclear fuel.

Iran claims its nuclear program is for purely peaceful purposes. It also has offered to resume talks with Western powers that have been stalled for over a year. Speaking in Geneva last week, Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi called production of atomic weapons a "great sin."

Iran's nuclear program is also on the agenda in Washington Monday, as U.S. President Barack Obama holds talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two leaders are at odds over just how fast Iran may allegedly be building a nuclear bomb - and any possible military strike against Iranian facilities.

On North Korea, Amano described talks between Pyongyang and Washington as an "important step in the right direction." The Obama administration announced last week that North Korea was ready to suspend its nuclear enrichment program and tests and allow monitoring by IAEA inspectors.

"The agency has not been able to implement any safeguard measures in the DPRK for nearly three years, so our knowledge of the current status of the country's nuclear program is limited," Amano said.

Nuclear safety is also up for discussion in Vienna this week, just ahead of the one-year anniversary of the accident at Japan's Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant.

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