The European Union said Wednesday that Iran was close to being able to
develop a nuclear weapon. The warning to the IAEA in Vienna coincides
with North Korea's apparent decision to reactivate its main nuclear
reactor. Lisa Bryant reports for VOA from Paris.
The text of
the European Union's warning on Iran was released to reporters ahead of
its delivery to a board meeting of the International Atomic Energy
Agency in Vienna. It claims Tehran is close to being able to arm a
nuclear warhead and that it seems to have pursued a program aimed to
acquire a nuclear bomb.
Both the United States and Israel have
also suggested Iran may be close to developing a nuclear weapon. But
Tehran continues to insist its nuclear program is for peaceful,
civilian purposes, to generate energy.
On Monday, IAEA head Mohammed El Baradei again urged Iran to be completely open about its nuclear program.
standoff with Tehran comes as another country with suspect nuclear
activities, North Korea, barred IAEA inspectors from accessing its main
nuclear reactor. Baradei also said North Korea has announced plans to
reactivate the site, in a move suggesting the country intends to
restart its nuclear program.
John Swenson Wright, a specialist
on North Korea at Chatham House, a London-based policy institute said
"this is a serious development. One shouldn't underestimate the
importance of what the North Koreans are doing at present. This echoes
what they did in the 1990s, in reactivating their nuclear program."
Wright is not so sure North Korea will actually restart its nuclear
activities and withdraw from a six-nation deal for North Korea to begin
dismantling its program in exchange for aid and other concessions.
Instead, he describes North Korea's move as diplomatic
brinksmanship.sparked by Washington's refusal to delist North Korea as
sponsoring international terror.
"It's important in the first
instance for the five other parties in the talks process to remain
united," Wright said. "One of the things North Korea has been successful in the past
is dividing the parties. And it's important for all of those parties,
and the international community as a whole, to make clear this is not
Wright says the international community
can also show North Korea what it stands to lose - both in terms of
financial aid and in terms of reengaging with the rest of the world.