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

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant 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.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More