News / Middle East

US: Iran Must Answer Questions Raised by UN Nuclear Report

Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant under construction (file photo)
Iran's Bushehr nuclear power plant under construction (file photo)

Senior Obama administration officials said Tuesday that the International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran underscores Tehran's failure to abide by its international obligations and prove the peaceful nature of its nuclear program.

Officials briefed reporters after the Vienna-based agency released its report, saying there is "credible" information that Iran engaged in activities aimed at developing nuclear weapons.

The International Atomic Energy Agency, or IAEA, says the information indicates that Iran worked on the design of an atomic weapon, and tested the components of such a weapon as part of what the agency calls a "structured" program before 2003.  Iran, the report says, might still be engaged in related research.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful civilian energy and medical purposes.  Before the IAEA report was released, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad dismissed it, saying the agency is being used by the United States and Iranian officials have warned Israel and the United States against taking military action against Iran.

Senior Obama administration officials say that although the report does not conclude that Iran has restarted the same kind of program it had in place before 2003, it raises concerns about possible ongoing research related to nuclear weapons development.

The officials say the report "further undermines" the credibility of Iranian government statements challenging international pressure over its nuclear program.  Iran, the officials say, needs to respond by answering the questions raised by the IAEA.

Senior administration officials say the report does not make any judgment as to how advanced an Iranian effort might be to develop a nuclear device that could be placed on a missile, saying that they could not discuss intelligence assessments.

But they say Iran's government needs to respond to the report.  The officials say the United States will consult with its allies and partners about future steps, looking at ways to put more pressure on the Iranian government - including additional sanctions - if it does not answer questions raised in the report.

The officials were asked about the difficulty of building support in the U.N. Security Council, specifically from Russia and China, for new sanctions, given the report's finding that some of Iran's nuclear activities might have been for peaceful purposes.

The officials pointed to IAEA findings on Iranian work on fast and multipoint detonators as what they called "a very telltale sign" of nuclear weapons development.

The IAEA report is being examined closely in the U.S. Congress, where lawmakers say it provides more momentum for legislation moving through the House of Representatives and U.S. Senate to tighten existing U.S. sanctions on Iran.

House Committee on Foreign Affairs chairwoman, Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, says the IAEA report demonstrates the need for the United States and other nations to take "decisive action" to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.

Democrat John Kerry heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"A lot of conversations are taking place right now to figure out what the best responses are going to be.  But it clearly means we have to ratchet up on Iran - probably tougher sanctions, among other things," Kerry said.

Republican Senator Mark Kirk is co-sponsoring legislation with New York Democrat Charles Schumer aimed at Iran's central bank.  Kirk says stronger sanctions on Iran might be needed.

"In the end, we may also have to think about an oil quarantine on Iran, so that Iran cannot sell oil.  That would quickly collapse the economy.  If you don't do that, then you basically push especially Israel into considering a military option.  And the reason why is Iran has transferred all of its advanced weapons that it currently holds to Hezbollah, including cruise missiles.  I think there is a near-100 percent chance that, once [Iranian President Mahmoud ] Ahmadinejad develops nuclear weapons, he will give them to Hezbollah.  And I don't think the world can put up with that," Kirk said.

The IAEA board is to decide whether to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council.

U.S. officials have not commented on extensive media reports, including in Israel, speculating about potential military action against Iran.  President Barack Obama has said no option has been ruled out regarding Iran.

Senior Obama administration officials repeated that on Tuesday, saying that the United States is committed to "doing what we can" to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.  But they said there is "additional space" to continue increasing the costs for Iran for its behavior.

You May Like

Conflicts Engulf Christians in the Middle East

Research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities, and Christians are facing persecution in a growing number of countries in the region More

Iran Bolsters Surveillance of Phones, Internet

Does increased monitoring suggest the government is nervous? 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.
Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assaulti
X
Daniel Schearf
August 29, 2014 9:30 PM
After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.

AppleAndroid