Iran recently hosted the UN’s chief inspector, Yukiva Amano, who says his recent visit was useful. Amano is the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, the agency that works with nations to comply with international nuclear standards. Amano just returned from Iran as part of the agency’s ongoing evaluation of Iran’s nuclear program, and especially to monitor any military uses that the Iranian government might be developing.
Before leaving the country, Amano described his talks with Iranian president Hassan Rouhani regarding Iran’s nuclear aspirations, and the current development of Iran’s nuclear capacities. Saying that his visit had been short, “but a useful one,” Amano said that he believes Tehran is fully committed to cooperating with the United Nations. Member nations have expressed concerns about the probability of Iran developing nuclear warheads for missiles, and other nuclear weapons.
Amano’s report sounds promising, but at the same time Rouhani told Amano that Tehran was not willing to discuss issues of its long-range missiles. Rouhani went so far as to declare that he believes that Iran’s missile capabilities “are not negotiable at any level under any pretext.” The West suspects that Tehran has hopes for developing nuclear weapons, not just using nuclear energy for civilian purposes.
Israel is one Western-aligned nation that is very concerned about Iran’s nuclear program. Israel fears that Iran may someday use nuclear mounted warheads on medium to long-range missiles. Given past threats by Iran, Israel refuses to concede the possibility that someday it may be in Israel’s national interest to prevent Iran from achieving nuclear nation status.
Although they may have impressed the UN inspector who says his visit was useful, Iran insists that it is the right of any developing nation to develop nuclear resources for civilian uses, for industry and for defense. Inside Iran, Rouhani must walk a tightrope: hardliners within the government want to see Iran as a nuclear power, equal to Israel and other world powers. At the same time Western sanctions are having an impact on the Iranian economy. Lately, Iran has been bartering with Russia, delivering oil in exchange for access to industrial products and food.
Other regional trading partners with Iran include Turkey and China. Both nations buy gas from Iran in exchange for hard currency. Many feel that no matter what type of negotiations and sanctions take place, a nuclear Iran is “a train that has already left the station.” Few nations who began the nuclear process have stopped at civilian-only purposes.
The so-called “Six Powers” monitoring the Iranian nuclear program include Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China and the United States. Via the UN, the world community has tied sanctions to Iran’s transparency in developing nuclear energy. Iran has labeled their demands as “excessive.”
While Amano said that his visit as UN chief inspector was useful, both sides have agreed to further talks. In the last agreement signed, Iran agreed to stop development on a heavy-water reactor, and agreed to daily monitoring by international nuclear inspectors. Iran blames the U.S. and Israel, accusing both for faulty intelligence, and insists that the Iranian nuclear program is only designed for civilian use.
By Jim Hanemaayer