Friday, September 14, 2007

U.S. demands tougher sanctions against Iran while the IAEA is asking the U.N. to take a sanctions "timeout."

Yesterday morning, the Washington Post published an article on page A14, U.S. Starts a Push for Tighter Sanctions on Iran - Promotion of New U.N. Resolution Comes as Tehran's Influence in Iraq is Called Surprisingly Deep: "The Bush administration has begun mobilizing support for a third U.N. resolution that would impose tougher sanctions against Iran, as the top U.S. military and diplomatic officials in Baghdad said yesterday that one of the biggest and still unfolding surprises in Iraq has been the depth of Iran's intervention….

“In a briefing at the National Press Club, Petraeus said arms supplies from Iran, including 240mm rockets and explosively formed projectiles, "contributed to a sophistication of attacks that would by no means be possible without Iranian support. . . . The evidence is very, very clear…."

Is Iran meddling in Iraq? I don’t know. Can we trust what we are being told? I don’t know. However, I do know that International Atomic Energy Association [IAEA] is making progress on increasing verification of Iran's nuclear program.

Posted at Informed Comment Global Affairs on September 11, The IAEA Board of Governors Meet to Talk about Iran Again: At the meeting this week, “… Mohammad ElBaradei, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Director General, is asking the Board, despite American objections, to give the IAEA time to implement the work plan the Agency has negotiated with Iran. ElBaradei’s hope is for the Security Council to take a "timeout'' from sanctions and for Iran to pause its uranium enrichment to avert a crisis over the country's nuclear program…..

“But Iran has already stated that it will not accept a suspension under any conditions and will halt its newly agreed upon cooperative work plan with the Agency if new sanctions are pursued at the Security Council.”

The article on the IAEA Board of Governors' meeting describes what the IAEA has already been able to accomplish:

“First, the Agency has been able to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran. Iran has continued to provide the access and reporting needed to enable Agency verification in this regard.

"Second, Iran has provided the Agency with additional information and access needed to resolve a number of long outstanding issues. In particular, Agency questions regarding past plutonium experiments in Iran have been satisfactorily answered, and this issue has been resolved. Questions about the presence and origin of high enriched uranium particles at the Karaj Waste Storage Facility have also been resolved….

“Third, contrary to the decisions of the Security Council, calling on Iran to take certain confidence building measures, Iran has not suspended its enrichment related activities, and is continuing with the construction and operation of the Fuel Enrichment Plant at Natanz. Iran is also continuing with its construction of the heavy water reactor at Arak. This is regrettable.

"Fourth, despite repeated requests by the Board and the Security Council to Iran, the Agency has so far been unable to verify certain important aspects relevant to the scope and nature of Iran´s nuclear programme…. However…it was agreed that Iran would work with the Agency to develop a work plan for resolving all outstanding verification issues.

This is the first time that Iran has agreed on a plan to address all outstanding issues, with a defined timeline, and is therefore an important step in the right direction.”

Iran’s decision not to suspend its enrichment related activities is described as “regrettable,” but it doesn’t appear to be a deal killer to the IAEA. Iranian Ambassador Javad Zarif has stated that Iran is committed to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and, "Iran insists on its right to have access to nuclear technology for explicitly peaceful purposes. We will not abandon that claim to our legitimate right."

If Iran is enriching uranium within its rights under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, I wonder why the US wants the U.N. Security Council to impose sanctions that would doom the IAEA’s efforts to implement the work plan that would provide the transparency regarding Iran's nuclear program that the whole world wants.

(Photo: At left, IAEA Director General ElBaradei, before the opening of the Board meeting 6 January. At right, Ambassador Nabeela Al-Mulla, Chair of the IAEA Board, consults with Mr. Kwaku Aning, Secretary of IAEA Policymaking Organs. IAEA, Credit: Calma/IAEA)

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