Saturday, April 29, 2006

U.N. Nuclear Watchdog Report Slams Iran

Kenneth R. Timmerman,
A report released Friday to the U.N. Security Council from the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna detailed Iran's failure to cooperate with the U.N. nuclear agency and paved the way for Security Council action against Iran.

A copy of the 8-page report, obtained by Newsmax, found that Iran had failed to comply with the March 28 Security Council "presidential statement" that gave Iran a 30-day deadline to halt all uranium enrichment activities.

Tehran reacted predictably by dismissing the report and the threat of U.N. action: "The Iranian nation won't give a damn about such useless resolutions," President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told a crowd in northwestern Iran.

A U.S. official familiar with the United Nations negotiations and the latest report told Newsmax that despite the IAEA's clear finding that Iran had "not met the Agency's requirements," further action by the Security Council "could take three months or more."

"This is not our timetable," the official added. "But we recognize that it could take that long. The United States will be pressing for a Security Council resolution with Chapter 7 authority with alacrity," the official said.

Chapter 7 of the United Nations charter deals with "threats to the peace, breaches of the peace, and acts of aggression," and gives the Security Council authority to use force against a member state.

Iran tried to soften the IAEA report in an 11th hour meeting in Vienna between its deputy nuclear chief, Mohammad Saeedi, and the IAEA safeguards director, Olli Heinonen on Thursday.

Saeedi delivered a letter to the IAEA in which Iran said it would "continue granting the Agency's inspection" of declared nuclear sites, and emphasized Iran's cooperation with the inspectors over the past three years.

But IAEA officials and other diplomats aware of Iran's negotiating tactics dismissed the letter, noting that Iran was "not being forthcoming" and had "fallen way short" of meeting the Agency's demands.

Undersecretary of State Robert Joseph told reporters last week that Iran was "approaching the point of no return" in its nuclear programs. He defined that as the moment when "Iran has acquired the confidence and the capability of running [enrichment] centrifuges over a sustained period of time, allowing it to produce enriched uranium."

Once Iran has acquired that capability, it could replicate a uranium centrifuge cascade in a clandestine site, U.S. officials fear Iran. As NewsMax has previously reported, Iran is currently building such a site in northeastern Iran, citing Iranian intelligence sources.

Highlights from the latest IAEA report:
  • Iran continues to refuse to provide documents relating to a 1987 offer by an intermediary for the A.Q. Khan nuclear black market network for centrifuge enrichment equipment. "The document related to the possible supply of: a disassembled centrifuge; drawings, specifications and calculations for a "complete plant"; and materials for 2000 centrifuge machines," the report states. The document also made reference to "uranium re-conversion and casting capabilities," which can be used for manufacturing nuclear weapons cores.
  • Iran also refuses to provide "any documentation or other information about the meetings that led to its acquistion of 500 sets of P-1 centrifuge components in the mid-1990s" from the Khan network. Iran claims it never any of the centrifuges obtained from the black market network.
  • Iran continues to stonewall the agency on its success in manufacturing the more advanced P-2 centrifuge in Iran, despite recent claims in the press by "high level Iranian officials concerning R&D and testing of P-2 centrifuges in Iran."
  • Iran continues to refuse IAEA demands that it provide a complete copy of a 15-page technical document received from the Khan network that describes uranium casting and manufacturing proceses of "hemispherical" shapes of highly-enriched uranium. Officials acknowledge there is no other purpose of HEU hemispheres other than as bomb cores.
  • Iran continues work on a Plutonium-breeder reactor in Arak, despite an IAEA demand that it suspend work on the project until full safeguards can be applied.
  • Iran refused AEA demands to provide information relating to the "Green Salt Project," a secret, parallel program to make nuclear materials exempt from IAEA inspections.
  • In addition, "Iran has yet to address the other topics of high explosives testing and the design of a missile re-entry vehicle." Earlier IAEA reports and information from Western diplomats indicated that the re-entry vehicle had been specially designed to carry a nuclear warhead. READ MORE
While the low-key IAEA report was both factual and technical, its political implications were immediately clear.

"We are ready to take action in the Security Council," U.S. Ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, told reporters in New York. "We're concerned about Iran's efforts to obtain nuclear weapons."