News / Middle East

Iran's Supreme Leader Criticizes International Atomic Energy Agency

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (file)
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (file)

Iran's Supreme Leader is criticizing the International Atomic Energy Agency and Western countries for saying his country's nuclear ambitions are not entirely peaceful.  

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei blasted the United States and other Western countries, branding them "hegemonistic powers," and vowing that Iran "would not submit to their will."  He also slammed the International Atomic Energy Agency for "not acting independently," especially with regard to its recent report on Iran's nuclear program.

The IAEA meets this week in Vienna and is expected to discuss Iran's refusal to accept the draft nuclear deal it was offered last November.  The deal called for Iran to ship up to 70 percent of its low-grade uranium stockpile to France and Russia for 20-percent enriched uranium.

The United States, Britain and Israel, the Ayatollah complained, are constantly trying to "stir up controversy," to discredit the Islamic Republic, which he claimed is merely working to pursue modern technology, including atomic energy for civilian purposes. He said the strength and solidarity of Iran's Islamic establishment has brought failure to their attempts.  Iran, he adds, is working for scientific development, including progress in nuclear technology, and despite all the controversy, it will become self-sufficient in the domain of (peaceful) nuclear energy.

Iran has repeatedly insisted its nuclear program is for civilian purposes, while the West suspects it is trying to build atomic weapons.  

Amid the bluster and attempts to discredit the IAEA, Khamenei went on to praise Iran's diplomatic corps, which he was addressing.  Despite Tehran's apparently increasing isolation, the Ayatollah claimed Iranian diplomacy is successful in countering the West. He said Iran must deploy a strong and useful diplomacy that relies on logic, wisdom and confidence.  He adds that strong diplomacy will triumph over arms, propaganda, and money.

Meir Javedanfar of the MEEPAS center in Tel Aviv says the Ayatollah is hoping to discredit the IAEA and the West in an attempt to wiggle out of what appears to be increasingly imminent sanctions. "Ayatollah Khamenei is aware that the IAEA report could be instrumental in the United Nations in bringing tougher sanctions against his regime, and by bringing it under question in such a manner he is trying to weaken its validity and credibility, so that it will be more difficult for the United States to gather the international consensus it needs in order to implement tough sanctions," he said.

Analysts say Iran also made an unusual move recently by bringing its stockpile of low-grade uranium from underground bunkers to an above-ground warehouse.  Javedanfar says he thinks the move could be intended to invite an Israeli attack, which he says would be in Iran's strategic interest, but he says technical factors could also be at play.

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