News / Middle East

West Presses Iran to Address Suspected Atomic Bomb Research

FILE - The flag of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) flies in front of its headquarters in Vienna.FILE - The flag of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) flies in front of its headquarters in Vienna.
x
FILE - The flag of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) flies in front of its headquarters in Vienna.
FILE - The flag of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) flies in front of its headquarters in Vienna.
Reuters
Western powers pressed Iran on Wednesday to tackle suspicions that it may have worked on designing an atomic bomb and the United States said the issue would be central to the success of talks on a final settlement over Tehran's nuclear program.

At a board meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Washington and the European Union underlined their support for the U.N. watchdog's efforts to investigate long-running allegations of possible nuclear arms research by Iran.

The IAEA inquiry is separate from but complementary to higher-level political talks between Iran and six world powers aimed at a deal on the overall scope of Tehran's nuclear energy program to ensure it cannot be diverted into bombmaking.

In potentially a significant advance for the IAEA's inquiry into Iran's nuclear research, Tehran agreed last month to address one of many topics the U.N. agency wants answers on - fast-acting detonators that can be used for nuclear explosions.

But while this was welcomed by Western officials at the closed-door session of the IAEA's 35-nation governing board in Vienna, they made clear the Islamic Republic must do much more.

The U.S. ambassador to the IAEA, Joseph Macmanus, said it remained critical for Iran to address substantively all international concerns about the so-called possible military dimensions (PMD) of the country's nuclear program.

A “satisfactory resolution of PMD issues will be critical to any long-term comprehensive solution to the Iranian nuclear issue,” Macmanus said, according to a copy of his statement.

He later told reporters: “I don't think there is a question that it is being raised and will continue to be central to a comprehensive solution.”

The 28-nation European Union voiced a similar line in its statement: “We urge Iran to cooperate fully with the agency regarding PMD issues, and to provide the agency with access to all people, documents and sites requested.”

Iran denies Western allegations that it is seeking to develop the capability to make atomic arms, saying its nuclear program is a peaceful project to produce electricity.

EU's Ashton to visit Tehran

Also in Vienna on Wednesday, experts from Iran and the  powers - the United States, Russia, France, Britain, Germany and Britain - began a meeting to prepare for the next round of political-level talks on March 17 in the Austrian capital. Diplomats said Russia would take part in the meeting, suggesting no apparent immediate fallout in the Iran negotiations because of the crisis over Ukraine.

“The overriding commitment is one of working together to resolve the Iran nuclear program and there are many other issues in the world that will continue to cause us to have disagreements and debates and sometimes to find ourselves in opposition to one another,” Macmanus said when asked whether tensions over Ukraine could disrupt the Iran talks.

Iran and the powers are aiming to build on a breakthrough deal reached late last year in Geneva under which Tehran agreed to curb parts of its nuclear program in exchange for some easing of sanctions that are battering its economy.

The six-month agreement focused mainly on preventing Tehran obtaining nuclear fissile material to assemble a future bomb, rather than on whether Iran sought to develop nuclear weapons technology in the past, which the IAEA is investigating.

Western diplomats and nuclear experts say the IAEA needs to carry out its inquiry to establish what happened and to be able to provide assurances that any “weaponisation” work - expertise to turn fissile material into a functioning bomb - has ceased.

But it is unclear to what extent it will form part of any final settlement between Iran and the powers - which unlike the IAEA can lift crippling sanctions on the major oil producer and therefore have more leverage in dealing with Tehran.

In Brussels, officials said EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton - who is coordinating the nuclear negotiations with Iran on behalf of the six powers - would travel to Tehran on Saturday for a two-day visit.

Topics would include Syria's civil war, human rights in Iran and the nuclear dispute. She is due to meet several senior officials, including Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.

You May Like

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Video Kenyans Lament Al-Shabab's Recruitment of Youths

VOA travels to Isiolo, where residents share their fears, struggles to get loved ones back from Somalia-based militant group More

This US Epidemic Keeps Getting Worse

One in 4 Americans suffers from this condition More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensionsi
X
May 26, 2015 11:11 PM
When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs