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.

    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

    Russian-speaking Muslim Exiles Fear Possible Russia-Turkey Thaw

    Exiled from Russia as Islamic radicals and extremists, thousands found asylum in Turkey

    US Presidential Election Ends at Conventions for Territorial Citizens

    Citizens of US territories like Guam or Puerto Rico enjoy participation in US political process but are denied right to vote for president

    UN Syria Envoy: 'Devil Is in the Details' of Russian Aleppo Proposal

    UN uncertain about the possible humanitarian impact of Russian proposal to establish escape corridors in Aleppo

    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.
    Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Busi
    X
    July 28, 2016 4:16 AM
    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Philadelphia Uses DNC Spotlight to Profile Historic Role in Founding of United States

    The slogan of the Democratic National Convention now underway in Philadelphia is “Let’s Make History Again” which recognizes the role the city played in the foundation of the United States in the 18th century. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, local institutions are opening their doors in an effort to capitalize on the convention spotlight to draw visitors, and to offer more than just a history lesson.
    Video

    Video A Life of Fighting Back: Hillary Clinton Shatters Glass Ceiling

    Hillary Clinton made history Thursday, overcoming personal and political setbacks to become the first woman to win the presidential nomination of a major U.S. political party. If she wins in November, she will go from “first lady” to U.S. Senator from New York, to Secretary of State, to “Madam President.” Polls show Clinton is both beloved and despised. White House Correspondent Cindy Saine takes a look at the life of the woman both supporters and detractors agree is a fighter for the ages.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video First Time Delegate’s First Day Frustrations

    With thousands of people filling the streets of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for the 2016 Democratic National Convention, VOA’s Kane Farabaugh narrowed in on one delegate as she made her first trip to a national party convention. It was a day that was anything but routine for this United States military veteran.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora