Nuclear watchdog urges united international pressure on Iran

VIENNA (BestGrowthStock) – The head of the U.N. atomic watchdog called for concerted international pressure on Tehran which still refuses to clear up doubts about its nuclear program and cooperate fully with watchdog IAEA’s inspections.

International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano said his agency was unable to rule out that Iran’s nuclear work was being diverted for military purposes, as feared by the West.

It was not clear if Amano was referring to more diplomacy, sanctions or both but his call comes as major powers are discussing a possible fourth round of sanctions on Iran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment and cooperate with the IAEA.

“Without a policy change on the part of Iran, we cannot do our work effectively. Policy change is needed,” he said in an interview with McClatchy Newspapers.

“The IAEA is not designed primarily to change the policy of member states. In this area, influence, persuasion by interested countries is needed. There is a role to be played by the United Nations.” A “synergy of effort by (the) IAEA, the United Nations and interested countries” is needed, Amano said.

In a separate interview with The Washington Post, Amano said Iran must answer the IAEA’s questions about Western intelligence indicating that it may have worked on developing a nuclear-armed missile. Iran says its atomic work is for peaceful uses only.

“If the concerns are removed, that will be very nice. If not, we need to ask for measures to remedy the situation.”

Western diplomats credit Amano with taking a blunter, tougher line on Iran than his predecessor Mohamed ElBaradei. Amano says his approach is “factual”, Iran accuses him of bias.

Amano told the Washington Post that Iran had still not allowed his inspectors better access to a site where it started enriching uranium to higher levels in February.

“If this continues for a long time, we may have a problem … the arrangement is not proper as of today,” he said.

Amano gave the interviews in New York where he is attending a conference taking stock of the 1970 Non-Proliferation Treaty.

At the meeting on Wednesday the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China voiced support for making the Middle East a nuclear weapons-free zone, which would ultimately force Israel to scrap any atomic arms it has.

The move reflected U.S. concern to win Arab backing for Iran sanctions by offering a concession over its ally Israel, but Washington says the zone cannot be actually established yet.

Amano also touched on the Israel theme in a letter to foreign ministries of the IAEA’s 151 member states on April 7.

The letter, seen by Reuters, asks for views on how to implement an IAEA resolution which voices concern about “Israeli nuclear capabilities” and urges it to join the NPT. Amano said he would report his findings at IAEA meetings later this year.

Israel, like India, Pakistan and North Korea, is outside the NPT and is widely assumed to have an atomic arsenal, though it has never confirmed or denied it.

“This is an unusual move by Amano but I don’t think it should be seen as him pressing Israel ahead of the conference,” a Western diplomat said. “(He) seems to want to open a discussion with all member states, not just a few of them.”

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(Reporting by Sylvia Westall; Editing by Louise Ireland)

Nuclear watchdog urges united international pressure on Iran