US Expects IAEA to ‘Echo’ Concerns on Iran Nuclear Program

Posted November 7th, 2011 at 7:35 pm (UTC-5)
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The White House said Monday it expects the International Atomic Energy Agency to “echo” U.S. concerns about Iran's nuclear activities when the U.N. body releases a report on Iran later this week.

White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters the Obama administration believes the report will reinforce the view that Iran has failed to comply with its international obligations. Western nations accuse Iran of trying to develop nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian energy program. Tehran denies the charge.

Carney said the U.S. continues to pursue a diplomatic approach, but refused to rule out other options such as military force. He did not comment on details of the IAEA report leaked to the media in advance of its expected publication.

A State Department, spokesperson repeated the U.S. and international position that Iran has the right to use its nuclear program for peaceful purposes, as long as it is transparent and allows full inspections. But she said Iran has not allowed full inspections and has continued enriching uranium to more than 20 percent — well beyond what is needed for energy purposes.

The Washington Post newspaper says IAEA experts and diplomats, who reviewed intelligence on Iran's nuclear program, believe Tehran has been working with a Russian scientist and other foreign experts to develop a device to trigger a nuclear weapon.

Former IAEA official David Albright told the newspaper that Iran's nuclear advancements include designing a capsule used to trigger a nuclear explosion. The New York Times says some officials briefed on the IAEA's intelligence believe Iran also has built a facility to test such a device.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad responded to the leaks by repeating that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful. He warned the United States and Israel against carrying out an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities, saying Iran's military capabilities are increasing and causing “fear” in the West.

Iranian cleric Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said Monday IAEA chief Yukiya Amano should not release a report containing lies about Iran, because doing so would hurt the U.N. agency's credibility.

The German foreign ministry said Berlin will call for “greater political and diplomatic pressure” on Tehran if the IAEA report confirms Western suspicions about a military dimension to Iran's nuclear work.

But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov cautioned against military action, saying it would be a serious mistake leading to unpredictable consequences. He said there is “no military solution” to the Iranian nuclear issue.