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

Diplomats Work to Extend Israeli-Palestinian Cease-Fire

US Secretary of State John Kerry, diplomats from France, Britain, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Qatar gathered in Paris Saturday to discuss crisis More

Photogallery US Defense Department Warns of Arms to Eastern Ukraine

‘Imminent’ delivery of Russian rocket launcher poses threat to civilians, US says More

Video Researchers: Africa Genetically Modified Crops Held Back by Scaremongering

GM crops offer best hope of increasing productivity and coping with climate change in Africa, according to co-author of Chatham House report 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.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid