Harsher IAEA report on Iran nuclear program expected next month
Upcoming follow-up report apparently includes new details about efforts by Tehran to develop nuclear warheads for ground-to-ground missiles.
An upcoming report to be issued next month by the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran's nuclear program is expected to be harsher than the last one, which the IAEA released in November. That document provided the main basis for stiffer international sanctions against the Islamic republic, including the complete oil embargo by the European Union that is to be imposed as of July.
Additional revelations by the IAEA could be the basis for even harsher international sanctions against Iran.
The agency's board of governors is scheduled to convene on March 5 in Vienna, the same day on which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is due to give a speech in Washington at a meeting of the annual policy conference of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. While in the United States, Netanyahu is expected to meet with President Barack Obama for talks that will to a large extent be devoted to the international response to the threat from Iran.
The upcoming follow-up report from the IAEA will apparently include new details about the effort by Tehran to develop a nuclear warhead for a ground-to-ground missile. Last week an IAEA delegation visited Tehran for another round of talks with Iranian authorities. Western diplomats told news agency reporters in Vienna, where the organization is based, that the Iranian visit was a total failure.
The diplomats told the Reuters news agency that the delegation again asked the Iranians to give inspectors access to visit the military facility at Parchin, southeast of Tehran, but the Iranians refrained from responding to the request. Parchin is thought to be a main site of the weapons program. According to the same sources, after two days in which there appeared to be some progress in the talks, the Iranians began deliberately stalling - under the guise of changing the rules for the discussions - and he visit accomplished nothing.
An IAEA delegation will return to Tehran for another round of discussions on February 21, and IAEA chairman Yukiya Amano said in an official statement that the agency is "committed to intensifying dialogue" with Iran over its nuclear program. At the beginning of the week, President Obama signed an order stiffening American sanctions on the Iranian central bank, in another significant step against Iran. This step came about two weeks after the Europeans announced their oil embargo.
It appears that at least some of the comments about the Iranian issue made Israeli leaders in recent weeks are timed for the run-up to the IAEA board of governors meeting.