News / Middle East

IAEA Report Alters Iran Nuclear Debate

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has vowed to respond to strikes against its nuclear facilities with "iron fists," with Iranian military brass at an army academy graduation, Tehran, Nov. 10, 2011.
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has vowed to respond to strikes against its nuclear facilities with "iron fists," with Iranian military brass at an army academy graduation, Tehran, Nov. 10, 2011.
William Ide

Analysts say a recently released International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report makes it difficult for Iranian officials to claim their country's nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.

The IAEA has detailed how Iran has carried out computer simulations of nuclear explosions, worked on detonators and made more than a dozen designs for fitting atomic warheads to missiles.

"This report makes it pretty clear that Iran has weaponization in mind," says Matthew Kroenig, a Georgetown University expert on nuclear proliferation. "[Tehran is] doing the work they would need to do in order to make nuclear weapons, so it is harder for them to maintain the facade that this is purely a peaceful energy program."

The IAEA report does not say Iran has a nuclear weapon, but it says Tehran might have an ongoing weapons development program.

Such a claim, analysts argue, will increase international pressure on Tehran and alter dynamics of the Iranian nuclear issue. Britain, France and Germany have raised the possibility of additional sanctions on Tehran, but Russia and China - both permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - object.

Despite international opposition, the Iran is pressing forward with its nuclear programs, rejecting the report as a "fabrication" and accusing IAEA chief Yukiya Amano of being a "puppet" of the U.S. government. Tehran says information in the report came mostly from a laptop computer that was stolen from an Iranian official in 2004.

Valerie Lincy, editor of Iranwatch.org, calls the official denial inevitable.

"I think it is a more difficult position to take today ... because the IAEA has gone into great detail about the source of its information and the fact that this does not come from just one member state -- [i.e.], the United States," she says. "At this point the information is coming from a lot of different places, including the agency's own investigations."

A shared responsibility

Iran is not the only country challenged by the report's findings. Elliott Abrams, Deputy National Security Adviser for Middle East Affairs under President George W. Bush, suggests the new findings put the onus of how to address the issue on the shoulders of other nations.

"One effect of this report, I think, is that it does change the debate from the question of whether Iran is developing nuclear weapons to the question of what do we do about the fact that Iran is developing nuclear weapons," he says. "I think the IAEA report has kind of settled the first argument."

Security analyst Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies says the report raises questions of how long to continue negotiating with Tehran.

"At what point do you actually say, 'The military option has to be used or we have to decide to actually let them have a nuclear device,'" he says. "The problem, too, is that it is one thing to say that they might have a few devices, possibly over time, [but] it is another to let them go ahead and produce significant numbers of nuclear weapons."

The intellectual challenge

Middle East expert Ray Takeyh of the Council on Foreign Relations says international sanctions, and efforts to delay or disrupt Iran's nuclear program, are not working.

"We are increasingly no longer in management mode... the management issue is exhausting itself," he says. "During the next administration, whomever it may be, the Iranians will either detonate or they will not, so it is time to start thinking not about ways of managing the program, but how do you solve the Iranian conundrum?"

Takeyh says he does not believe a nuclear-armed Iran is inevitable, pointing to the country's economic and political vulnerabilities, along with a robust internal opposition movement that could interrupt Tehran's quest for an atomic bomb.

Still, he says, time is running out.

"In my view, the intellectual challenge here is: How do you get the regime to abide by its international obligations without the use of force? And that is hard to do."

IRAN NUCLEAR TIMELINE

You May Like

Hezbollah Chief Says Does Not Want War But Ready for One

VOA's Jerusalem correspondent reports that with an Israeli election looming and Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, neither side appears interested in a wider conflict More

Multimedia VOA SPECIAL REPORT: Despite Danger, Best US Minds Battle Deadly Virus

Scientists at America's premier biological research center race in military confinement to find effective drugs, speedier tests and a safe vaccine amid the deadliest outbreak of Ebola in history More

Kurdish Poet Battles to Defend Language, Culture

Kawa Nemir's work is an example of what he sees as an irreversible cultural and political assertiveness among Kurds in Turkey More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unresti
X
Heather Murdock
January 30, 2015 8:00 PM
Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Mobile Infrared Scanners May Help Homeowners Save Energy

Mobile photo scanners have been successfully employed for navigational purposes, such as Google Maps. Now, a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology says the same technology could help homeowners better insulate their houses and save some money. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid