The International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) latest report on Iran has mixed findings. In many instances, the report shows that Iran has become more transparent, working to clarify most of the outstanding questions having to do with its past nuclear activities. One key unresolved issue is the question of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons studies. IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei emphasized the seriousness of the issue, but did not make any conclusive statements, saying,
I should however add that in connection with the weaponization studies, we have not seen any indication that these studies were linked to nuclear material. So that gives us some satisfaction but the issue is still critical for us to be able to come to a determination as to the nature of Iran´s nuclear programme.
However, the US is already pushing for more UN sanctions because of continued uranium enrichment and renewed concerns about whether Iran stopped pursuing their nuclear weapons program in 2003, as was stated in the December National Intelligence Estimate.
According to the Associated Press, the US responded to the new IAEA report by
Demand[ing] that Iran confess to trying to make atomic weapons, suggesting that anything short of that would doom an International Atomic Energy Agency probe of Tehran’s nuclear past.
The call by Gregory L. Schulte, chief U.S. delegate to the Vienna-based IAEA, appeared to set the bar insurmountably high for the investigation by the U.N. agency’s chief, Mohamed ElBaradei.
The rush to impose further sanctions and the US response to the new IAEA report are cause for concern. The US government still refuses to consider unconditional diplomacy with Iran a possibility, and requiring this kind of an admission from Iran only contributes to the tension between our two countries. The 5th anniversary of the Iraq war is drawing near, a reminder of the importance of weighing intelligence carefully, making decisions based on facts and not on ideology, and using direct, unconditional diplomacy.