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

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter 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.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid