News / Middle East

UN Nuclear Chief: Iran Talks 'Going Round in Circles'

International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano reacts as he attends a news conference at the UN headquarters in Vienna, Austria, March 4, 2013.
International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano reacts as he attends a news conference at the UN headquarters in Vienna, Austria, March 4, 2013.
Reuters
The U.N. nuclear watchdog chief said on Monday talks with Iran have been “going around in circles” - unusually blunt criticism pointing to rising tension over suspected nuclear arms research by Tehran that has increased fears of a new Middle East war.
    
Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, vented growing frustration at the lack of results in getting Iran to address suspicions of military dimensions to its atomic energy program. Tehran denies the accusations.
    
In hard-hitting comments to the IAEA's 35-nation Board of Governors, he also said Iranian advances in building a heavy-water research reactor and in its uranium enrichment work were in “clear contravention” of U.N. Security Council resolutions, dating to 2006, calling for a suspension in such activities.
    
The IAEA has been trying since early 2012 to engage with the Islamic state over what the Vienna-based U.N. agency calls the “possible military dimensions” to Iran's nuclear program.
    
But ten rounds of negotiations in the last 17 months have failed to achieve any breakthrough. Western diplomats accuse Iran of stonewalling the IAEA, an allegation Tehran rejects.
    
“Despite the intensified dialogue between the agency and Iran since January 2012..., no agreement has been reached on the structured approach document. To be frank, for some time now we have been going around in circles,” said Amano.
    
“This is not the right way to address issues of such great importance to the international community, including Iran,” he said, according to a copy of his speech to the closed-door board meeting at the IAEA's headquarters.
    
Israel, widely assumed to be the Middle East's only nuclear-armed state, sees Iran's declared civil nuclear program as the most serious risk to its security and has threatened military action if diplomacy and sanctions fail to make Tehran hold back.
    
“We need to achieve concrete results without further delay to restore international confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear activities,” said Amano.
    
The IAEA has “solid grounds for requesting clarification in relation to possible military dimensions”, he added.
    
Amano spoke at a time of apparent deadlock in a broader diplomatic initiative by six world powers to find a peaceful solution to the decade-old dispute over Iran's nuclear ambitions. Western diplomats say they are awaiting the outcome of Iran's June 14 presidential election but do not anticipate any notable shift in the country's nuclear defiance.
    
Iranian nuclear advances
   
Iran, a big oil producer now under harsh Western sanctions against its lifeblood export sector, says its nuclear program aims to meet the electricity needs of a rapidly growing population and advance some areas of scientific research.
    
But its refusal to suspend nuclear activity with both civilian and potential military applications in defiance of U.N. Security Council demands, and its lack of full openness with the IAEA, have fuelled suspicions abroad about its ultimate goals.
    
“Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable us to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities,” Amano said.
    
“I urge Iran to fully implement its [nuclear] safeguards agreement ...and engage with us to achieve concrete results in resolving all outstanding issues with a sense of urgency.”
    
Western and Israeli worries about Iran are focused largely on its uranium enrichment work, as such material refined to a high level can provide the fissile core of an atomic bomb.
    
But diplomats and experts say a heavy water research reactor being built near the town of Arak could give Iran an alternative ingredient - plutonium - for nuclear bombs, if it were to decide to build such weapons of mass destruction.
    
An IAEA report issued to member states last month showed the Islamic Republic pressing ahead with the construction of Arak, including the delivery to the site of the reactor vessel.
    
Such a plant could yield plutonium for the core of a nuclear bomb if the spent fuel were reprocessed, something Iran says it has no intention of doing.
    
“Iran continues to advance its heavy water-related projects,” Amano said. The lack of updated design information about the plant “is having an increasingly adverse impact on our ability to ... implement an effective safeguards approach.”

You May Like

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Works to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Smithsonian senior research botanist Vicki Funk says ultimate goal is 'trying to get one-half of the diversity of plant life on Earth at the genus level in two years' More

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs