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The IAEA decided to bypass diplomatic niceties on the lack of cooperation coming from Iran on their commitments to nuclear non-proliferation in a new and disturbing report to the UN Security Council. The Washington Post reports that the international nuclear watchdog has highlighted new centrifuge development and "information gaps" that prevent the inspectors from knowing the full extent of nuclear research by the mullahcracy:
The United Nations' atomic monitoring agency reported Friday that Iran continues to expand its uranium enrichment technology and to hold back information that would allow inspectors to determine whether a covert military nuclear program exists.
The report by the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency said Iran is conducting an enrichment program in defiance of U.N. Security Council demands to halt it. Agency inspectors who visited Iranian sites observed construction of additional centrifuges for expanding uranium enrichment operations, the report said.
Agency inspectors found no "undeclared nuclear material in Iran," the report said. But it added that because of information gaps, "including the role of the military in Iran's nuclear program, the agency is unable to make progress in its efforts to provide assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran."
The report gives the United States and other Western countries ammunition to convene a debate in the U.N. Security Council next week on possible sanctions or other international pressures against Iran. Within minutes of the report becoming public late Friday afternoon Europe time, British officials urged such a debate.
George Bush told reporters that the US and the UK would bring the matter back to the Security Council, where both will press for economic sanctions as a response to Iranian defiance. Russia and China will likely oppose such a move, with both cautioning today against hasty action that would drive the Iranians from the NPT. That argument lost quite a bit of credibility when Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that Iran "won't give a damn" about the IAEA or the UNSC.
The report reflects the same defiance. The IAEA repeatedly notes where Iran refused to discuss the open issues of compliance, balked at providing the documentation for nuclear designs it knows Iran purchased from the AQ Khan network, and ignored deadlines for meeting the agency and UNSC resolutions. It generally points out that Iran has stonewalled inspectors in private just as much as they have insulted negotiators and made wild threats in public.
The case for further action is clear. Iran has openly defied the UNSC and the IAEA. US ambassador John Bolton told reporters that the next step will likely be to make the previous resolution mandatory, a step opposed by Russia and China in the first round, and to establish another short deadline for compliance. The two Iranian allies will probably bend on making the resolution mandatory, allowing them to procrastinate another few weeks. If the two oppose it, or if the next deadline comes with the same result and they oppose further action for enforcement, they will have given the US and its European allies the political opening the West needs to pursue their own solution to the Iranian problem. They will also have driven a stake through the heart of their policy of using the UN to diplomatically restrain the US.
Much rides on the next step. Too bad the main actor in this drama is a nutcase like Ahmadinejad.Sphere It View blog reactions
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