Iran update: number 130


  • White House charges Iran with non-compliance in recent IAEA inspections
  • Iran and the IAEA still at an impasse
  • First Iranian nuclear plant scheduled to begin operation in early 2009
  • Iran may presently have sufficient nuclear material for a single weapon
  • British Foreign Secretary’s ‘nuclear’ warning to Iran
  • Washington’s foreign policy on Iran

On November 19, the White House assailed Iran for its alleged unwillingness to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in the wake of the most recent IAEA report on Tehran’s nuclear program. White House Deputy Press Secretary Gordon Johndroe rebuked Iran for its “failure to comply with the IAEA and UN.” According to the official statement, Iran could still accept a package of diplomatic and economic benefits, and a relaxation of the various sanction regimes.

According to the IAEA’s report, the Agency has been able to continue its verification that declared material has not been diverted. However, there remain disputes between the Agency and Iran over reporting requirements. The Agency has accused Iran of refusing access to the Arak reactor construction site, failing to provide timely design information relating to its plans for reactors and associated plant, failing to clear up unanswered questions around previous alleged nuclear weapon studies, and refusing to implement the Additional Protocol (though this last is not legally required). Iran is continuing to develop its centrifuges and expand the number operating. Gholamreza Aghazadeh, President of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, confirmed late November that Iran has 5,000 working uranium enrichment centrifuges.

Iran’s Ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, has confirmed that a number of documents and nuclear projects have been submitted to the IAEA’s technical cooperation committee for consideration. Although the dossiers are still to be finally ratified by the agency’s Board of Governors, they have already been approved by the board’s secretariat as legitimate projects for assistance.

The British Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, used his recent address at the Nuclear Energy Conference in Abu Dhabi to issue a clear warning over Iran’s nuclear program. He urged the Persian Gulf states to utilize their economic and political powers in order to discourage Iran’s nuclear aspirations. He did, however, state that: “The pressure we are applying to Iran, the sanctions we have supported in both the EU and the UN, are not an attempt at regime change. And nor are they a precursor to military action. We are 100% committed to a diplomatic resolution of this dispute.”

In response to the speech, Iran’s foreign ministry issued a press release highlighting the fact that Britain was implicitly supporting Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons and had no legitimacy to criticize Iran. The Ministry also released a prepared statement, in response to comments made by President-elect Obama, suggesting that it perceives minimal change in tone in Washington’s position on Iran. The remarks come on the heels of Obama’s recent calls for harsher sanctions, while holding up the possibility of direct talks.

Stories and links

US: Iran standoff with IAEA ‘unfortunate and disappointing’, AFP, November 19;_ylt=AkMyMYTjmk8ukGSW_JN5EtMLewgF

IAEA makes little headway on Syria, Iran, AFP, November 19

Iran lashes out at British FM over nuclear warning, AFP, November 24

Iran claims it has 5,000 machines to produce enriched uranium, Telegraph, Wednesday 26 Iran-claims-it-has-5000-machines-to-produce-enriched-uranium.html

Embassy raps UK’s ‘failed’ stance on Iran’s nuclear issue, IRNA, November 25

Envoy reports Iran’s nuclear activities to IAEA technical committee, IRNA, November 24

Latest Iran and Syria safeguards reports circulated to IAEA board, UN Staff report, November 19

IAEA Report on Iran: issued by the Institute for Science and International Security, November 19

Iran signal nuclear work expansion, Reuters, by Parisa Hafezi and Fredrik Dahl, November 26

Iran sees no sign of US policy change with Obama, Reuters,1 December


Comments, editorials and analysis

Editorial: Obama starts well with the right choices, The New Zealand Herald, 3 December

A dream for the Middle East, The Guardian, Khaled Diab

Brothers in arms, The Guardian, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, 29 November

Tehranologist: Money, money and money, The Independent, Ali Sheikholeslami

Obama and Clinton: more agreement than disagreement on foreign policy, The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, 1 December

Has Iran achieved a nuclear weapons breakout capability? Not yet, but soon, Institute for Science and International Security, David Albright, Jacqueline Shire and Paul Brannan, 2 December

Designing Iran’s ICBM from the ground up, Geoffrey Forden, Arms Control Wonk, 26 November

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