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)
TEXT SIZE - +

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

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends 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, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid