The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) made its assessment today in a confidential report filed to the UN Security Council and obtained by news agencies.
The report says Iran resumed enriching small amounts of uranium in recent days, and that the agency's probes had been blocked by a lack of cooperation on the part of Iran.
The findings could open the way to UN sanctions against Iran.
The UN Security Council had asked Muhammad el-Baradei, the head of the IAEA, to spell out on August 31 whether Iran had complied with a July 31 resolution.
The deadline expires at midnight on August 31, Tehran time.
With hours to go before the deadline, U.S. President George W. Bush warned Iran that there would be "consequences" if it fails to respond to the UN's demand. Bush told military veterans that the United States "will continue to work closely with our allies to find a diplomatic solution, but there must be consequences for Iran's defiance, and we must not allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon."
The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, said the IAEA report "makes clear that not only has Iran not suspended uranium enrichment activities..., it is accelerating them."
Bolton stressed that the report "shows a continuing pattern of a lack of cooperation by Iran, of obstructionism by Iran, of not allowing the IAEA inspectors to do the basic work that they need to do to prove that the Iranian program is peaceful."
His conclusion is that "there is simply no explanation for the range of Iranian behavior, which we've seen over the years, other than that they are pursuing a weapons capability."
(compiled from news agency)
WHAT DOES TEHRAN REALLY THINK? On August 22, Radio Farda correspondent Fatemeh Aman spoke with Alex Vatanka, Eurasia editor for Jane's Information Group, by telephone from Alexandria, Virginia. Vatanka discussed the possible impact that comprehensive sanctions could have for Iran.
Radio Farda: Some Iranian authorities are trying to create the impression that they aren't concerned about the possibility of international sanctions against it. They emphasize that what Iran has achieved so far has happened despite the sanctions already in place against it. Are they really not afraid of sanctions?
Vatanka: I think that what the Iranians are trying to do is to continue to play this balancing act. On the one hand, they are trying to say, "Look, we have done without you for 27 years; we can continue." On the other hand, if you look at every other major Iranian overture toward the U.S., obviously what they are hoping to do is remove those sanctions. It is the sanctions that have been the biggest obstacle to a genuine expansion in the Iranian economy. It is the sanctions and U.S. policies vis-a-vis Iran that have, for instance, kept Iran from joining the World Bank. It is sanctions and so on that have made the Iranian oil industry have such a tough time in bringing investment into the strategic oil and gas sectors. People like [former Iranian President Ali Akbar Hashemi-]Rafsanjani back in the mid 1990s even kept certain fields untouched because the idea was that U.S. companies should have those once the sanctions were lifted.
I think sanctions are quite important to the Iranians, but at the same time what they are trying to say is, "Don't assume that we are going to fall off our chair just because you mentioned the sanctions card." It is part of a kind diplomatic chess game going on by Tehran. But remember if we look and listen to Iranian reformists, this is being openly debated inside Iran. The question that is being asked of [President Mahmud Ahmadinejad and his entourage] is, "What is the ultimate objective?" Is it just Islamic independence? Is it just the ability to enrich uranium? The debate in Iran by the reformists -- and I think a lot of people would sympathize with this -- is, "What are we being sanctioned for exactly and what policies do you have to make sure that those sanctions don't hit us harder than we have already been hit?"
Remember, the big issue here is this: Iran has been sanctioned by the U.S. Iran has never faced comprehensive United Nations sanctions. The Iranian people have never suffered on a scale that the Iraqi people, for instance, suffered because of such sanctions. So it is kind of disingenuous of these senior leaders to pretend that Iran has already gone through comprehensive sanctions. Iran has not. And it will be totally different set of circumstances that will have a totally different impact on Iranian society and the economy, should the UN impose comprehensive sanctions on the country.