Iran and the EU 3
According to a report issued last week by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Tehran continues to respond to inspections of its nuclear facilities with stonewalling and defiance. With the next IAEA board meeting scheduled for Monday in Vienna, the critical question now is whether three EU nations Britain, France and Germany, also known as the "EU 3" are prepared to join the United States in stepping up pressure against the Iranian regime.
Over the past seven months, three IAEA reports have documented Iran's deceptions. In November, the IAEA issued a 30-page report showing that Tehran has been deceiving the international community about its intentions for almost 20 years. In February, the IAEA criticized Iran for promising to provide details about its nuclear programs, but failing to do so.
The latest IAEA report, issued last week, suggests that two months after Iran pledged to suspend its nuclear program, it continues to produce items that can be used to build nuclear weapons. The IAEA suggests that Iran has provided false information about its nuclear program; that it takes repeated requests to pry loose information; and that the information it has provided is not particularly useful. One of the most troubling points deals with Iran's promise on April 9 to suspend production of centrifuge parts. While Iran suspended such activities at three state-run facilities, centrifuge work continued at three private companies. Iran's behavior "fits a long-term pattern of denial and deception that can only be designed to mask Iran's military nuclear program," said Kenneth Brill, U.S. ambassador to the IAEA. "Inconsistent stories and unanswered questions continue to be the hallmark of Iranian cooperation with the agency."
In the days leading up to next week's IAEA meeting, Tehran has sounded unrepentant. The head of Iran's paramilitary Revolutionary Guards warns that the United States is pursuing a policy of "bullying" Muslim nations that "will stir up the hatred of more than 1 billion Muslims" and bring divine wrath upon America.
At issue now is whether Britain, France and Germany, which have been repeatedly embarrassed by Iran's broken promises over the past year, are prepared to take a more assertive stance. Indications are that the EU 3 will oppose any effort by Washington to get the IAEA to go on record declaring Iran in violation of its commitment not to build nuclear weapons. At some point, the European nations will be forced to choose between their commercial interests in engaging the current Iranian regime and the need to give real credibility to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a safeguard against the development of atomic weapons by rogue states. The hour is growing late.
G-8 Leaders Scold Iran, Line Up Behind US on North Korea
June 10th 2004
Pacific Rim Bureau (CNSNews.com) - Leaders of the world's key industrialized nations have sent a strong message to North Korea and Iran, urging the communist regime to dismantle its nuclear weapons programs and chastising the Islamic republic for inadequately responding to concerns about its nuclear ambitions.
In a show of support for the Bush administration's position on North Korea, Group of Eight leaders meeting in Sea Island, Ga., adopted Washington's insistence that Pyongyang "dismantle all of its nuclear weapons-related programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner."
This is the demand U.S. officials have been pressing home during two inconclusive rounds of six-party talks on the North Korean nuclear crisis, also involving South Korea, Japan, China and Russia.
A third round of talks is expected in Beijing soon.
The G-8 leaders in a statement Wednesday expressed strong support for the six-party talks process, saying that North Korea's pursuit of nuclear weapons through both uranium- and plutonium-based programs were "serious concerns to us all."
The specific references to uranium and plutonium was another diplomatic victory for Washington.
North Korea has been denying the existence of a uranium-enrichment program, and both China and Russia have at various times also voiced skepticism.
In an interview with the New York Times, published Wednesday, Deputy Chinese Foreign Minister Zhou Wenzhong repeated Beijing's doubts that North Korea had a uranium program.
State Department spokesman Richard Boucher later in the day called Zhou's comments "puzzling," saying the U.S. had repeatedly made it clear there was "very conclusive information that North Korea has a covert uranium enrichment program."
The G-8 leaders Wednesday also said they deplored Iran's "delays, deficiencies in cooperation, and inadequate disclosures" to the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
"We remain united in our determination to see the proliferation implications of Iran's advanced nuclear program resolved."
The U.S. believes Tehran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, under the cover of a supposedly civilian program.
Russia is building the Iranians a nuclear power reactor at Bushehr on the Persian Gulf coast, which both Iran and Russia assert is for purely peaceful purposes.
The G-8 leaders, who include Russian President Vladimir Putin, urged Iran to comply promptly and fully with all commitments and IAEA requirements, including ratifying and implementing the "additional protocol" to its IAEA safeguards agreement.
The additional protocol requires Iran to provide detailed information on its nuclear activities to the watchdog, and gives the IAEA more authority to verify its claims.
The U.S. argues that North Korea and Iran have both exploited a loophole in the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), under which nuclear-capable states agreed to help others to develop peaceful atomic energy on condition they renounced the pursuit of nuclear weapons.
At Wednesday's summit, the G-8 leaders endorsed a one-year ban on the transfer of nuclear weapons technology, such as enrichment and reprocessing equipment.
President Bush earlier this year suggested a permanent ban on such transfers.
The Group of Eight comprises the U.S., Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, Canada and Russia. The European Union has observer status.
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