The United States has called on the international community to
end all nuclear commerce with Iran.
U.S. officials said the Bush administration has launched a campaign to
persuade the 187 members of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as well as
the International Atomic Energy Agency to end all nuclear cooperation and
trade with Iran, a member of the NPT. They said the administration has
argued that Iran has already violated the spirit of the NPT as well as IAEA
Iran, the officials said, violated a 1992 IAEA directive that NPT
signators declare nuclear facilities before their construction. Teheran
failed to report two Iranian nuclear facilities until after their
construction was disclosed by the United States in late 2002.
Officials said Iran has been one of the largest beneficiaries of IAEA
nuclear technical cooperation. The IAEA has approved Russian plans for the
construction of the Bushehr nuclear facility in an $800 million project. The
reactor's first unit is expected to begin operations in 2004.
The administration effort was launched in wake of the IAEA's inspection
of two additional Iranian nuclear facilities in February. Officials said the
administration was alarmed by what inspectors found in the Arak and Natanz
facilities and angered that the United Nations agency did not insist on
Officials said the inspection of the Natanz gas centrifuge site
demonstrated that Teheran is building a nuclear weapons infrastructure that
could result in Iran's first atomic bomb in 2005. They said the IAEA and
several key NPT members have refused to acknowledge Iran's progress toward
nuclear military capability until Teheran either tests or reports the
production of atomic weapons.
"How many other NPT non-nuclear weapon states built an enrichment plant
before their first power reactor was finished?" U.S. Assistant Secretary of
State John Wolf asked. "None. What responsible country would or could commit
to building a production scale plant without extensive research and
development? None. How many other NPT non-nuclear weapon states with nuclear
programs based solely on light water reactors have also built large-scale
heavy water production plants? None. Why has Iran sought clandestinely to
acquire laser enrichment technology? Iran has not answered, nor even
admitted to this effort."
On Monday, Wolf reviewed Iran's nuclear program in an address to the NPT
review conference in Geneva. The conference, which will last several weeks,
was expected to focus on proposed revisions of the NPT in 2005.
The United States wants the NPT to include sanctions for members who do
not fully cooperate with the treaty. In addition, Washington has called for
increased nuclear safeguards by the IAEA, which could prevent the emergence
of nuclear programs in such NPT states as Iraq and North Korea.
Iran's leading ally, North Korea, has announced its withdrawal from the
NPT amid Pyongyang's admission that it has developed nuclear weapons.
"We all need to reflect on the fact, that North Korea and Iran obtained
proven enrichment technologies largely undetected, even though, suppliers
increased their scrutiny of enrichment transactions more than a decade ago,"
IAEA director-general Mohammed El Baradei is expected to submit a full
report on Iran's latest nuclear facilities during the agency's board of
governors meeting in June. So far, El Baradei has only said that he had
found a sophisticated facility at Natanz and urged Iran to be more
forthcoming in its reporting.
"The IAEA needs to ask the hard questions and it deserves, it needs to
get complete answers," Wolf said. "It needs to go wherever necessary to find
the truth; and it needs to measure each answer against the pattern to date
of denial and deception. Member states of the IAEA will need to know how
Iran has responded to requests for access. Nuclear commerce must not
continue when there are questions, even if those questions have not yet
resulted in formal findings of noncompliance."