News / Middle East

World Powers Fear Iran's Plan to Expand Nuclear Capability

A view of Iran's heavy water nuclear facilities near the central city of Arak, January 15, 2011 (file photo)
A view of Iran's heavy water nuclear facilities near the central city of Arak, January 15, 2011 (file photo)

World powers expressed concern on Thursday about Iran’s nuclear intentions after the country said it plans to triple its output of higher-grade uranium. Our reporter speaks to analysts about the stand-off between Iran and a number of world powers and how a resolution might be found.  

Iran’s nuclear drive is causing “deep concern” to a number of world powers, they said in a statement on Thursday.

During a meeting in Vienna held by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the United States, China, Russia, Britain, France and Germany said in a joint statement that Iran must provide more information about its nuclear intentions.

Concern factor

That statement followed an announcement from Iran that it will triple its output of 20 percent-enriched uranium.  World powers fear Iran is developing a nuclear weapons program.

Mark Fitzpatrick is director of the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Program at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a global security research group based in Britain.

He told VOA that Iran’s Wednesday announcement is problematic. “I think Iran's uranium enrichment has been worrying for some years and the latest development about Iran's announcement that it will be increasing the production of 20 percent-enriched uranium, for which it has no civilian use and which is very close to weapons-usable equipment, is more worrying than ever,” said Fitzpatrick.

Iran says the aim of its enrichment program is energy security. Enriched at a low level, below 5 percent, uranium can be used to fuel a reactor to generate electricity.

Iran says it needs to produce uranium at the higher level of 20 percent purity to make fuel for a medical research reactor for the treatment of cancer.

But if uranium is further enriched to 90 percent purity it can be used to develop a nuclear weapon - and it’s that which has world powers wary.

World Powers Fear Iran's Plan to Expand Nuclear Capability
World Powers Fear Iran's Plan to Expand Nuclear Capability

The U.N. Security Council has repeatedly told Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment until the international community can verify that it won’t be used for military ends. Fitzpatrick says that verification hasn’t been possible.

"The IAEA has not been able to verify, because of Iran's refusal to cooperate fully with the investigation, its refusal to allow inspectors full access, its refusal to provide advanced design information about its facilities, which is required by its safeguards agreements.  When a country violates its IAEA obligations in this way, it's the role of the U.N. Security Council to enforce the obligations," he said.

'Possible military dimension'

In a recent report, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said there may be a “possible military dimension” to Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA said the report was neither balanced nor factual.

No new measures were planned at the meeting in Vienna but earlier this week, U.S. President Barack Obama said more sanctions may be slapped on Iran for its nuclear program.

Iran is already under four rounds of U.N. sanctions and it says no offer could halt its enrichment of uranium.

Stalemate

Fitzpatrick says both sides of the divide seem set for a stalemate. "I'm pessimistic that there will be a resolution. I actually foresee a kind of long, cold war-type situation where Iran is under increasing sanctions, it is increasingly isolated, its people will have to bear the burden of their leaders' decisions," he said.

A U.S. envoy described Iran’s Wednesday announcement on nuclear enrichment as a “brazen example of its deepening non-compliance.”

But Richard Dalton, who was Britain’s ambassador to Iran from 2003 until 2006, tells another story.

Speaking to VOA, he says Iran started producing uranium at 20 percent purity early last year and, because of international sanctions, Iran does not have access to the kind of materials needed to launch a “fully fledged” nuclear enrichment program.

He says officials on both side of the divide are trying to raise the stakes over the nuclear issue. In Iran, he says, the leadership gains public favor by appearing defiant.

What next?

The U.S. and other world powers, he says, want justification to take action. "They're always trying to build a case for further international pressure because they are stuck with a sanctions policy, which is not working. And the only way, they believe, of making it work better is to put more sanctions on them [Iran]. And that requires a heightening of the threat every time there is a new announcement," said Dalton.

But Dalton says more sanctions will not work. He says the policy of insisting that Iran suspend its nuclear enrichment program has failed and a new, more flexible approach is needed.

"We have an effective instrument in the International Atomic Energy Agency. In order to ensure that all Iranian nuclear activities are peaceful in intent, we have to ensure an appropriate level of limitations and of scrutiny and of monitoring by the International Atomic Energy Agency of everything that Iran does. That should now be the objective of the international negotiations, which has been deadlocked for far too long for the safety of the Middle East and for the pursuit of the countries, including mine, involved in the negotiations," said Dalton.

In its announcement Wednesday, Iran said the high-grade uranium production will be produced at Fordo, a plant around 150 kilometers from Tehran.

The existence of Fordo was long kept a secret until it was identified by Western intelligence in September 2009.

You May Like

Israelis Quietly Expand Enclave in Palestinian District of Jerusalem

Estimated 500 settlers, armed or protected by paramilitary police, live in Silwan among 50,000 Palestinians More

Video US, Iran Face Similar Challenges in Syrian Fight Against IS

Both Washington, Tehran back fighters battling Islamic State militants in Iraq -- but in Syria they support opposing sides in country’s civil war More

China Boosts Efforts to Help Afghan, Regional Stability

Observers say China’s increased regional involvement are due to concerns that Afghan instability and the presence of anti-China militants in Pakistani border areas could fuel Xinjiang troubles 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.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid