November 17th, 2007 06:05 EST
More Iran Sanctions, U.S. Says
Washington -- Iran`s latest revelations to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about its controversial nuclear program raise more questions than answers, U.S. officials say. The new IAEA report bolsters growing international support for a third round of sanctions to force Tehran to negotiate.
Calling Iran`s ongoing nuclear standoff a "world defining issue," U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad told reporters at the United Nations November 15 that the United States would push for "broad and biting sanctions." (See full transcript.)
"Based on our review of the document, it is clear that Iran has not fully cooperated," Khalilzad said.
In the report, IAEA Director-General Mohammed ElBaradei welcomed new background on Tehran`s decision in the mid-1980s "to acquire nuclear enrichment technologies on the black market," as well as an "updated chronology," shedding further light on Iran`s covert nuclear efforts in the 1990s.
But, ElBaradei also concluded that Iran is continuing its nuclear activities and warned that the IAEA`s knowledge about Iran`s current nuclear program is "diminishing" due to Tehran`s decreased cooperation since 2006.
"Unfortunately, this report makes clear that Iran seems uninterested in working with the rest of the world, and the current Iranian government continues to push Iran deeper into isolation," White House press secretary Dana Perino said November 15. (See full transcript.)
The Iranian government claims that its nuclear enrichment activities are designed to develop civil nuclear power. But the regime`s continued refusal to allow United Nations` nuclear inspectors full access to all facilities lead many, including the United States, to suspect that Tehran secretly is seeking nuclear weapons.
In light of these and other questions, Khalilzad called on U.N. Security Council members China and Russia to join France, the United Kingdom and the United States in support of a third round of sanctions.
With Germany, the Security Council members have worked together as the "P5+1" to urge Iran to cooperate with the IAEA, while the European Union has pursued its own parallel diplomatic process with Tehran.
Together, they have offered Iran assistance with civil nuclear power Tehran claims to want. Russia has proposed a fuel delivery regime that reduces proliferation concerns, and the United States has offered a chance to turn the page on nearly three decades of strained relations.
The IAEA report follows talks on Iran between Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chinese officials in Beijing, as well as recent visits to the United States by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whom President Bush briefed on new U.S. sanctions against Iran`s Revolutionary Guard Corps and state-owned banks. (See related article.)
As the IAEA board of governors meets to discuss the report, Under Secretary of State R. Nicholas Burns will be meeting with his counterparts from China, France, Germany, Russia and the United Kingdom to discuss the way forward on another round of sanctions.
"Being isolated is not what the people of Iran would want," Perino said. "They deserve better."
(USINFO is produced by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)
By David McKeeby
USINFO Staff Writer