UN nuclear watchdog set to submit Iran report
Update: Officials now say the Iran report will be released either Wednesday night or Thursday
The long-awaited report by the United Nations' International Atomic Energy Agency about Iran's alleged nuclear weapons program is scheduled to be released to diplomats Thursday, sources close to the Vienna-based agency tell RAW STORY, after earlier saying it would be released Wednesday.
The report will be submitted to the United Nations and released in restricted form to the public. Sources declined to disclose the contents of the report.
Late Tuesday, Iran handed over to the UN nuclear watchdog a document containing design information that could help to make nuclear weapon parts.
But diplomats said it was unclear whether the gesture really was a sign of goodwill on the part of Tehran or a last-minute attempt to stave off further possible UN sanctions.
This may have delayed the report's release.
The IAEA report is crucial because the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany all agreed to hold off a vote on additional sanctions until after its release.
The six nations met in London last week in an attempt to coordinate strategy with regard to Iran's nuclear program.
Any additional sanctions would target trade and economic activity with Iran more generally. Iran has vowed not to give up its uranium enrichment program, which it insists is legal under the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Both the IAEA and Iran have characterized the talks as constructive.
Iran and the IAEA have conducted a series of highly technical talks since August, when Iran promised to answer questions under the threat of additional UN sanctions in response to its secretive enrichment program. The UN Security Council has already passed tough sanctions against Iran twice, once December 2006 and again in March 2007. Both rounds of sanctions primarily affected sales of technology and materials that could contribute in any way to Iran's uranium enrichment and missile programs.
The 2006 sanctions imposed an asset freeze on any companies considered to be engaged in helping Iran on programs identified by the United Nations Security Council. In March, these sanctions were tightened further.
Iran says that it has given the IAEA all the information needed to prove that its development of centrifuges for the enrichment of uranium is intended for a peaceful energy program and not for nuclear weapons. The IAEA has expressed satisfaction with the talks but has declined to comment in advance of the report on whether Iran has fully resolved the issues of transparency.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown warned Monday that he would seek not only tougher sanctions but also a worldwide ban on oil and gas investment in Iran if Tehran continued to defy the UN. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy have also indicated a "get tough" policy towards Iran.
Russia and China, meanwhile, which have veto power in the UN Security Council, have consistently opposed harsher sanctions. Harsher action therefore appears unlikely.
The United States wants Iran to drop its enrichment program entirely. Recent American rhetoric has suggested that even allowing Iran "the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon" is unacceptable.
"We got a leader in Iran who has announced that he wants to destroy Israel," President Bush declared last month. "So I've told people that if you're interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from have the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon. I take the threat of Iran with a nuclear weapon very seriously. And we'll continue to work with all nations about the seriousness of this threat. Plus we'll continue working the financial measures that we're in the process of doing."
The Bush Administration declared the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) a terrorist organization Oct. 25 - the first time in history that a military branch of a sovereign state has been labeled with such a designation.
Tensions have been running high.
Last week, after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad declared that Iran "couldn't care less" about sanctions, Israel's Deputy Prime Minister accused IAEA head Mohamed El Baradei of complacency over Iran's nuclear ambitions and called for him to be replaced.
An Iranian spokesman retorted that "the U.S.-led world arrogance along with the Zionist regime are trying to orchestrate misleading reports about Iran."
France's Foreign Ministry responded to the controversy by declaring its "full support" for ElBaradei, while Saudi King Abdullah called for Iran to avoid "escalation, confrontation and challenge."