Archive for the ‘International Atomic Energy Agency’ Category

Iran increases stockpile of uranium

November 19, 2008

Iran is forging ahead with its nuclear programme, the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog reported on Wednesday, deepening the dilemma facing US president-elect Barack Obama over his campaign promise to engage with Tehran.

The latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency reveals that Iran is rapidly increasing its stockpile of enriched uranium, which could be rendered into weapons-grade material should Tehran decide to develop a nuclear device.

By Daniel Dombey in Washington and James Blitz in London
FT, London

The agency says that, as of this month, Tehran had amassed 630kg of low enriched uranium hexafluoride, up from 480kg in late August. Analysts say Iran is enriching uranium at such a pace that, by early next year, it could reach break-out capacity – one step away from producing enough fissile material for a crude nuclear bomb.

An Iranian technician works at the Uranium Conversion Facilities ...
An Iranian technician works at the Uranium Conversion Facilities in Isfahan. The International Atomic Energy Agency, despite six years of intensive investigation, is no closer to determining whether Iran’s disputed nuclear drive is entirely peaceful as Tehran claims, the watchdog said in a new report Wednesday.(AFP/File/Behrouz Mehri)

“They are moving forward, they are not making diplomatic overtures, they are accumulating low enriched uranium,” said Cliff Kupchan, an analyst at the Eurasia Group, a risk consultancy in Washington. “These guys are committed to their nuclear programme: if we didn’t know that, they just told us again.”

The IAEA report also says there has been a breakdown of communication between the agency and Iran over alleged research on an atomic weapon. “The Iranians are making good progress on enrichment but there is absolute stone-walling on past military activities,” said Mark Fitzpatrick of the International institute for Strategic Studies. “It’s very disappointing.”

The progress chalked up by Iran increases the difficulties for Mr Obama, who campaigned on promises of talking to America’s enemies, although during the election he scaled down his initial vow to meet Iran’s leaders to a more general commitment to consider doing so if it advanced US interests.

“Obama faces a real dilemma,” said the Eurasia Group’s Mr Kupchan. “He must decide whether to pursue diplomacy quickly in light of rapid Iranian progress or whether to wait in the hope of a more moderate Iranian leadership after Iran’s June presidential election.”

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The White House accused Iran Wednesday of an “unfortunate and disappointing” failure to cooperate with the UN nuclear watchdog agency and effectively rejecting a US offer for high-level talks.

“The Iranian government’s failure to comply with the IAEA and UN is unfortunate and disappointing,” spokesman Gordon Johndroe said after the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Tehran.

The agency cited scant progress in its investigation of Tehran’s suspect nuclear program and said the Islamic republic was defying UN demands to freeze uranium enrichment, which can be a key step to building atomic weapons.

Johndroe noted that Iranian compliance could unlock a package of economic and diplomatic incentives — including an offer for talks between US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and her counterpart.

“The door is open if Iran will suspend its enrichment activity, but they don’t seem to want to walk through it,” he said in a brief statement.

An Israeli F-16I fighter plane takes off from Ramon Air Base ... 
An Israeli F-16I fighter plane takes off from Ramon Air Base in southern Israel November 19, 2008.REUTERS/Gil Cohen Magen

N. Korea to resume dismantling nuclear facilities

October 12, 2008

By HYUNG-JIN KIM, Associated Press Writer

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea said Sunday it will resume dismantling its main nuclear facilities, hours after the U.S. removed the communist country from a list of states Washington says sponsor terrorism.
File satellite image of North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear reactor. ... 
File satellite image of North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear reactor. North Korea said Sunday it would resume work to disable its plutonium-producing nuclear plants and readmit UN inspectors after the United States removed Pyongyang from a terrorism blacklist.(AFP/Digital Globe/File)

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said it will again allow inspections by the United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency at its Yongbyon nuclear complex to verify the disablement process, pledged under a 2007 disarmament-for-aid deal with the U.S. and four other regional powers.

“We welcome the U.S. which has honored its commitment to delist (North Korea) as ‘a state sponsor of terrorism,'” the ministry said in a statement carried by the country’s official Korean Central News Agency.

TV still shows the public demolition of North Korea's cooling ...
TV still shows the public demolition of North Korea’s cooling tower at its Yongbyon nuclear complex in June. South Korea said Sunday that a US decision to take North Korea off its terrorism blacklist put the communist state’s nuclear disarmament back on track, but a Japanese minister called the move “extremely regrettable.“(AFP/CCTV/File)

North Korea halted its nuclear disablement in mid-August in anger over what it called U.S. delays in removing it from the terror list. The country has since taken steps toward reassembling its plutonium-producing facility and barred international inspectors from the site.

The U.S. had said North Korea first had to allow verification of the declaration of its nuclear programs it submitted in June. On Saturday, the U.S. said it took the North off the terrorism blacklist because Pyongyang had agreed to all Washington’s nuclear inspection demands.

U.S. officials said North Korea agreed to allow atomic experts to take samples and conduct forensic tests at all of its declared nuclear facilities and undeclared sites on mutual consent, and would permit them to verify that it has told the truth about transfers of nuclear technology and allegations it ran a separate secret uranium enrichment program.

U.S. officials, however, said the North could again be placed on the blacklist if it doesn’t comply with the inspections. The North also said Sunday that prospects for its disarmament depend on whether the U.S. delisting actually takes effect and the North receives remaining international oil shipments promised under the 2007 aid deal.

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U.S. wants new Iran sanctions expedited

November 3, 2007

By DAVID STRINGER, Associated Press Writer

LONDON – U.S. officials said Friday that Russia and China were keeping the U.N. Security Council from moving quickly enough toward a third set of sanctions over Iran’s refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns said there was an urgent need to ratchet up pressure over the issue, despite agreement Friday among the five permanent Security Council members, plus Germany, to come up with a new sanctions resolution if November reports by the European Union and the International Atomic Energy Agency do not show improved Iranian cooperation.

“The U.S. believes very strongly there is a need to accelerate the diplomacy, to strengthen the sanctions,” Burns told The Associated Press….

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

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US pushes for tougher sanctions on Iran

November 2, 2007

By DAVID STRINGER, Associated Press Writer

LONDON – A top American diplomat pressed for harsher U.N. sanctions against Iran for its nuclear program on Friday, while Iran’s former president said talks with the U.N. atomic watchdog were progressing and warned against threatening his country.

U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns was meeting diplomats from the four other permanent Security Council members and Germany to rally support for a tougher track with Iran, which has a deadline next month to fully disclose details of its nuclear program.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and France support new sanctions if Iran continues to refuse to suspend uranium enrichment, though fellow permanent U.N. Security Council members Russia and China remain skeptical.

The U.S. and allies accuse Iran of using a civilian power program as cover to develop ….

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US official warns Iran on nuke program

November 2, 2007

By GEORGE JAHN, Associated Press Writer

VIENNA, Austria – A senior U.S. official challenged Iran’s hard-line president Thursday over his claim that Iranians are immune from further U.N. sanctions, saying such action is in the works unless Tehran meets demands to curb its nuclear program.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered his own warning in Tehran, saying his government would make unspecified economic retaliation against any European country that followed the U.S. lead in imposing sanctions on some Iranian banks and businesses.

A Saudi Arabian official, meanwhile, said Arab states in the Persian Gulf had proposed to Tehran that they set up a consortium to provide Iran with enriched uranium as way to defuse the nuclear fight.
U.S. Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns

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Iran’s Revolutionary Guards beat sanctions: exile

August 23, 2007

By Paul Eckert 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards are using front groups to beat U.N. sanctions and acquire weapons and material for Tehran’s nuclear program, an exiled opponent of the Iranian government said on Wednesday.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has been, consistently over the past few months, violating the United Nations resolutions 1737 and 1747, using different ways to evade the sanctions and import goods and material,” Jafarzadeh said at a news conference in Washington.

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