News / Middle East

UN Watchdog Wants Visit to Iran's Nuclear Facilities

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Yukiya Amano of Japan waits for the start of the IAEA board of governors meeting at the International Center, in Vienna, Austria, Nov. 17, 2011.
Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Yukiya Amano of Japan waits for the start of the IAEA board of governors meeting at the International Center, in Vienna, Austria, Nov. 17, 2011.
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Lisa Bryant

The International Atomic Energy Agency's chief says he wants to send a team of experts to Iran following a report outlining evidence that Tehran may be trying to build a nuclear bomb.

International Atomic Energy Agency head Yukiya Amano said he hopes Tehran will respond positively to his request for an expert visit, made to the head of the Iranian atomic energy agency earlier this month, to see whether Iran's controversial nuclear program has "possible military dimensions."

"I hope a suitable date can be agreed [upon] soon. It is essential that any such mission should be well planned and that it should address the issues contained in my report," said Amano.

Released last week, the IAEA report provides the agency's strongest evidence to date that Iran may be heading toward building a nuclear bomb. Amano referred to the report in opening remarks to the agency's board in Vienna. World powers on the board later in the day issued a resolution expressing "deep and increasing concern" about Iran's nuclear intentions.            

"The information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device. It also indicates that prior to the end of 2003 these activities took place under [a] structured program and that some activities may still be ongoing," said Amano.

As it has in the past, Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad accused Washington of fabricating the allegations in the IAEA report.

For their part, the 35-member IAEA is divided about what to do next. The U.S. and European nations are pushing for more United Nations sanctions against Iran. But Russia and China, both members of the U.N. Security Council, are likely to vote against such a measures.

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