Israeli strike on Iran nuclear program? Global leaders try to quiet speculation, threats.
Ahead of an IAEA report on Iran's nuclear program, China, Russia, Germany, and France have all urged calm.
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The day before a new report on Iran's nuclear program is expected to be released, China spoke out against any use of force to stop the program's progress, but also urged Iran to "show flexibility and sincerity."
Based on leaks ahead of the official release, the report is expected to reveal that Iran is further along in its nuclear program than previously believed. Those expectations have already prompted a flurry of fighting words and, in response, efforts to tone down discussions among world leaders.
According to the Associated Press, the report will "suggest that Iran made computer models of a nuclear warhead and include satellite imagery of what the IAEA [International Atomic Energy Agency] believes is a large steel container used for nuclear arms-related high explosives tests."
Iran, which has long insisted that its nuclear program is for civilian energy purposes, yesterday reiterated its assertion that it is not developing nuclear weapons. Agence France-Presse reports that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Monday accused the US and Israel of seeking international support for a military strike on Iran, while Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi said, “We have repeatedly stated that we are not going to create nuclear weapons."
A senior US official told the AP that he expects the report's release will harden the resolve of American allies, particularly those in Europe, to put more pressure on Iran. The US government plans to use the report as leverage in its argument for expanding and strengthening current sanctions on Iran.
Unsurprisingly, Israel is in the spotlight. In August 2010, Jeffrey Goldberg wrote a piece for the Atlantic based on conversations with former and current Israeli government officials that predicted that Israel, nervous about Iran's nuclear capabilities, would bomb Iran by July 2011. That prediction did not bear out, but this IAEA report has revived speculation, fanned by comments from Israeli officials, that a strike on Iran is still on the table.
On Sunday, Israeli President Shimon Peres, who is a former Nobel peace laureate but lacks significant executive power in his current post, said that an attack on Iran was becoming more likely, according to the BBC. On Tuesday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak equivocated, saying that he did not think the international community had the will to impose tougher sanctions, but that Israel had made no military decisions of its own on Iran, the Jerusalem Post reports. He also said that Israel did not feel obligated to get US approval for a strike on Iran.