That Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano gives an interview to Lally Weymouth of the Washington Post just days before his new reports on Iran’s nuclear (and Syria’s illicit) programs are presented to the IAEA’s Board of Governors comes as a big surprise. Amano definitely crosses borders when leaving the diplomatic path and giving his own interpretation of what has to be discussed behind closed doors first.
Asked whether he would agree (?) that many “believe, that Iran carried out nuclear weapons research in the past, including work on weaponization (?),” he responds, “We receive information from various countries and collect information from our own sources that give us concern over the possible use of nuclear materials for military purposes – in the past and perhaps now.” Well, I suppose by “in the past” he means the infamous “laptop” which contains what his predecessor at the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, used to describe as “alleged studies” and Iranian officials consider faked. And “perhaps now” cannot be more vague.
Asked, “How is Iran complying with the IAEA? Your last report indicated some frustration,” he responds, “We ask them to declare – we ask about their activities … We don’t know if there are other activities outside their declaration. We are not sure if they are hiding something.” He refers to the Additional Protocol and modified code 3.1 of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) to which Iran had agreed in 2003 but which have never been ratified by the Iranian majles. Both had been implemented for some time but Ahmadinejad suspended it when the Iran nuclear case had been referred to the UN Security Council in 2006. There are different interpretations as to whether Iran is free to do that, of course, which have led to the latest round of UN sanctions.
Asked by Weymouth, “What is the next step if they are not forthcoming? Will you say in your February report that Iran was engaged in nuclear weaponization before 2003,”Amano responds, “We continue to press them. If they don’t [clarify], I have to report it to the Board of Governors. For the time being, I don’t see any indication that we can make progress.” And, he admits that the IAEA doesn’t have a “smoking gun” but concerns. What is amazing is that the 16 intelligence agencies in the U.S. have claimed in their National Intelligence Estimates (NIE) before and in 2007 that Iran had a nuclear weapons program until 2003 “with high confidence.” It’s not a secret. That there is no “smoking gun” right now does not address the question. It is unnecessarily confusing the public. The new NIE has been delayed now for more than a year because there is no smoking gun. Didn’t Amano get the question or is he intentionally misleading?
Regarding the stuxnet cyber attack, Amano wants to make sure that Iran is constantly producing more enriched uranium. “The production is very steady.” These are interesting news when considering the hype about the computer worm in the West just days before the later failed talks of World powers P5+1 with Iran in Istanbul in December.
How should we interpret a remark by Weymouth, “Some say that from the moment Ayatollah Khamenei gives the order to make the bomb it will take a year” considering the fact that Ayatollah Khamenei has stated in a fatwa that nuclear weapons are un-Islamic? Even Amano doesn’t want to respond to that. On Weymouth’s note, “President Ahmadinejad seems very determined to build a nuclear program, he agrees: “I have the same impression.” What is probably mixed up here in order to imply is “program” with “weapon.” Ahmadinejad has never claimed anything else than that he is determined to further Iran’s nuclear program. This is Washigton Post’s disinformation at its best.
Last modified February 15, 2011.
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