VIENNA -- The acting U.S. ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) says Iran needs to stop calling the UN nuclear watchdog names and focus on answering suspicions about its nuclear program.
Robert Wood speaks with RFE/RL correspondent Charles Recknagel in Vienna as the IAEA's board of governors considers the Iran nuclear crisis.
RFE/RL: How do you react to Tehran today directly attacking the credibility of the International Atomic Energy Agency by saying it is being diverted by Western powers into the role of an intelligence agency?
I think it is unfortunate that Iran chose to attack the agency's integrity and credibility and, in essence, accuse it of being part of espionage. I think this is just another attempt by Iran to divert attention away from its own responsibilities and its obligations not only to the [IAEA] but to the UN Security Council.
What Iran needs to do is what we have all said, what this [IAEA] board [of governors] has said in a number of resolutions, as the UN Security Council has said, it needs to provide the agency with the access it needs to do its job and until Iran does that it will continue to be under the investigation of the agency and the suspicion of the international community at large.
RFE/RL: What elements does Washington want to see included in the new "structured approach," which the IAEA and Iran are currently negotiating and which the IAEA hopes will result in Iran answering all outstanding questions about the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program?
It is not for me really to say what should be in the "structured approach" document that is worked out between the IAEA and Iran. But I think what needs to happen here is that Iran needs to sit down and agree to the "structured approach," it needs to implement whatever is agreed to. Whatever they put their signature to, and the agency also signs, Iran needs to implement.
RFE/RL: The European Union noted today that the IAEA already has been trying for six months to bring Iran to an agreement to answer questions about the possible military dimensions of its nuclear program. How long is reasonable to wait for such an agreement?
Not forever. Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton has made very clear the window for diplomacy is currently open but it won't remain that way forever. It is really hard to say how long this is going to take but the longer Iran continues to delay and deceive and obfuscate, the more pressure it is going to come under.
They are under a lot of pressure right now. They will be under additional significant pressure beginning July 1 when the EU oil sanctions go into effect. I think what we want to do is we still want to have a process of diplomacy with Iran, but based on the history we have to have a pressure track as well, and the two of these in tandem, I think, are going to give us the best opportunity to get the answers to all the questions the international community has about Iran's nuclear program.
RFE/RL: Is there a danger that the process at the IAEA can slow the process of the direct talks between the six world powers and Iran, whose next meeting is in Moscow on June 18-19? Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Ashgar Soltanieh, alluded to such a possibility today when he charged the IAEA with acting as an "intelligence agency" and said that was not "constructive on the eve of the meeting in Moscow."
There are two tracks and he is trying to manipulate each track to Iran's benefit. Look, in each case, Iran has certain things that it needs to do. In the case of the EU3 + 3 [eds: also called P5 +1 and including Britain, France, Germany, the United States, Russia, and China] track, they need to engage in some confidence-building measures and we are certainly willing to that and reciprocate as appropriate. With regard to the agency, they have to provide that cooperation which I mentioned. But trying to play each track off of the other is not useful, they are not fooling anyone, they are not pulling the wool over anyone's eyes.