The U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency says there is plenty of evidence Iran is building a nuclear weapon. In an interview with VOA, Gregory Schulte said Iran is entitled to nuclear technology, but not for military purposes.
Ambassador Schulte has been in Vienna only a few weeks but has already experienced a special IAEA board meeting and is preparing for the next U.N. report on Iran's nuclear program.
IAEA experts now say investigations confirm Iran's story that traces of weapons grade uranium were imported on contaminated equipment from Pakistan and not domestically produced.
So does this put Iran in the clear? Ambassador Schulte thinks not. "The Iranian leadership has made the argument that these programs are necessary for civilian nuclear power but the Iranian activities are not consistent with a program for civil nuclear power. Why are they hiding so many of their facilities? Why do they build their enrichment facilities underground and disguise them as an agricultural complex. Why is the military associated with many of these programs? These are real questions the IAEA has asked and that we ask and Iran refuses to give answers to," he said.
The ambassador says the indications are that Iran's objectives are not peaceful, which is why the IAEA board is asking Tehran for clarifications. "The Board of Governors spoke very clearly two weeks ago and a resolution was passed by consensus. First, the board expressed its serious concern at Iran's activities and in particular its breaking the seals and its initiation of conversion right in the middle of the board meeting. Secondly, they urged Iran to resume their suspension of uranium conversion activities and third they asked the director general for a comprehensive report on their activities," he said.
The U.S. ambassador said the United States supports the efforts of European nations to negotiate a package with Iran offering the Islamic republic nuclear power technology. "The people of Iran deserve better. They deserve to have better ties with Europe. They deserve better economic opportunities," he said. "They deserve access to nuclear power. It's up to their leadership to make these right decisions".
Mr. Schulte accused the Iranian leadership of not only trying to build nuclear bombs, but also backing international terrorism. "One thing to be conscious of is that Iran not only appears to be working hard to acquire nuclear weapons but the Iranian leadership has also chosen to use terrorism as a tool of its foreign policy," he said.
He said other countries on the 35-nation IAEA board were concerned about Iran's activities on this front. "We know that they provide support and money and training and material to a number of terrorist groups including ones who have directly opposed progress to the Middle East peace," he said.
The IAEA board will look at the Iranian nuclear issue in September when it meets again.