Iran Fails to Comply IAEA Report May Open Path to Sanctions

Iran is in defiance of the UN Security Council, a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Friday. Sanctions may be next. But Iran says "no one" can make the country give up its nuclear activity.


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that no one can make Iran give up its nuclear program.
AP/ IRNA

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad says that no one can make Iran give up its nuclear program.

The International Atomic Energy Agency report on Iran issued on Friday contains few surprises. Iran, the report says, has successfully enriched uranium and continues to defy the Security Council by pursuing nuclear related activities. The report, prepared by IAEA head Mohamed Elbaradei, also says that Iran continues to snub IAEA efforts to gain a clear picture of Iran's nuclear activities.

"After more than three years of agency efforts to seek clarity about all aspects of Iran's nuclear program, the existing gaps in knowledge continue to be a matter of concern," the report read. "Any progress in that regard requires full transparency and active cooperation by Iran."

Iran had been given 30 days by the Security Council to cease uranium enrichment. Iran's refusal to cease enrichment activities opens the path to possible Security Council sanctions. United States Ambassador to the UN John Bolton had reportedly already been planning the introduction of a council resolution in anticipation of the IAEA report. On Friday, he told the AP that "the first resolution would be simple and straightforward, 'making mandatory' last month's council requests on suspension of enrichment and full cooperation with IAEA inspectors. We would give Iran a short time to come into compliance."

In a Friday press conference, Bolton reiterated that the US would seek a resolution under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which would allow sanctions and would mean that the resolution could be militarily enforceable.

"If anything, the IAEA report shows that Iran has accelerated its attempts to obtain nuclear weapons although the report doesn't actually say that," Bolton said. "(Iran's) contention that their nuclear activities are purely for peaceful intentions is simply not borne out by the facts."

As the release of the Friday report approached, Iran had remained defiant. "No one," Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Thursday, can make Iran give up its nuclear technology. He also warned the United States and Europe that they would regret any decision to "violate the rights of the Iranian nation."

The country also indicated that it would not comply with any Security Council resolution which intends to prevent Iran from enriching uranium. Iranian Ambassador to the United Nations Javad Zarif said that, because the Iranian nuclear program is for the sole purpose of generating electricity, it falls outside of the council's competence.

"If the Security Council decides to take decisions that are not within its competence, then Iran does not feel obliged to obey," Zarif said according to the AP. "The proper context for the discussion of this issue is within the IAEA. It is not within the competence of the Security Council to deal with this issue and the Security Council will be simply eroding its authority by adopting any decision that does not fall within its competence."

The US had already requested an informal Security Council meeting prior to the report's release to be held next Wednesday. The council will discuss how to respond to the IAEA report.

"In order to be credible, the Security Council of course has to act," US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice told reporters at a NATO foreign ministers meeting in Sofia, Bulgaria on Friday, prior to the report's release. "The Security Council is the primary and most important institution for the maintenance of peace and stability and security, and it cannot have its will and its word simply ignored by a member state."

Despite Iran's repeated claims that it has only peaceful intentions with its uranium enrichment, many in the international community fear the country is developing nuclear weapons. Russia and China -- both veto-wielding members of the Security Council along with the US, France and Britain -- continue to resist imposing sanctions and would prefer the issue remain at the IAEA rather than being transferred completely to the Security Council.

In emphasizing that the United States remains dedicated to achieving a diplomatic solution, US President George W. Bush on Friday said "the world is concerned about (Iran's) desire to have not only a nuclear weapon but the capacity to make a nuclear weapon or the knowledge to make a nuclear weapon."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in Russia on Thursday for talks with President Vladimir Putin, called on Iran to fulfill its international commitments. "We are not talking about banning Iran from using nuclear energy for civilian goals," Merkel said. "But it must keep to its obligations and agreements." Meanwhile, her foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, called on the United States to negotiate directly with Iran on its nuclear ambitions. "We maintain that the only solution is a diplomatic one," he said. His call echoes a Wednesday editorial in the International Herald Tribune -- signed by former foreign ministers Madeleine Albright of the US, Joschka Fischer of Germany, Jozias van Aartsen of Holland, Bronislaw Geremek of Poland, Hubert Vedrine of France and Lydia Polfer of Luxembourg -- calling for Bush to negotiate directly with Iran.

Iran magnified international concerns about its intentions on April 11 by announcing that it had succeeded in enriching uranium. Iranian President Ahmadinejad has likewise repeatedly called for the destruction of Israel and denied the Holocaust, raising concern in Israel, Europe and the US.

cgh/AP/Reuters

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