IAEA steps up pressure on Iran with condemnation of its nuclear defiance
Russia and China – reversing earlier stances – joined today in the IAEA's near-unanimous vote expressing 'serious concern' over Iran's nuclear program.
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Declaring that Iran's "procrastination is unacceptable," the EU told the board in a statement: "Iran has not engaged seriously and without preconditions in talks aimed at restoring international confidence in the exclusively peaceful nature of it nuclear program."
Iran, likewise, accuses the world powers of imposing their own unacceptable preconditions and mishandling the negotiations by insisting that Iran give up its most sensitive nuclear work at the outset, but offering virtually no relief from sanctions or other punitive measures.
The IAEA resolution comes after the Associated Press this week reported that the agency has received new intelligence from Israel, the US, and two other nations that indicated Iran "has advanced its work on calculating the destructive power of an atomic warhead through a series of computer models it ran sometime within the past three years."
The AP report stated: "Such computer mock-ups typically assess how high explosives compress fissile warhead material, setting off the chain reaction that results in a nuclear explosion."
Iran has dismissed past intelligence documents about previous alleged nuclear weapons-related work as fabrications.
In the background has been the steady drumbeat of Israel urging military action. This week Mr. Netanyahu stepped up his rhetoric, aiming at President Obama's diplomatic approach, and the White House effort to ensure that Israel does not launch a strike.
"The world tells Israel, 'Wait. There's still time,'" Netanyahu said on Tuesday. "And I say: 'Wait for what? Wait until when?' Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before Israel."
Iranian officials dismiss Israeli threats, and routinely hurl their own counter-threats at the Jewish state. But Iran is facing greater challenges.
"The Iranians are regionally isolated and internationally exposed, and domestically they are scrambling," says Chubin of Carnegie. "All of that means they are weak, so they can either give in, or they can push back. And the answer is they are doing both.
"They are saying, 'Yes, let's meet, let's talk, let's be reasonable,' with the hope that they can get the Chinese and the Russians to say, 'Hey, Iran is being reasonable,' " says Chubin. "And the push back is in Syria" with declarations by top Iranian officials that they "will not allow" the regime to collapse.