Iran’s Slowing of Nuclear Work Doesn’t Sway Israel

The head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, left, and the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, on Monday address reporters in Tehran. A new IAEA report finds that Iran has slowed work on its nuclear program in recent months, but that has not swayed Israeli opposition to a multinational agreement with Tehran.
National Journal
Emelie Rutherford, Global Security Newswire
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Emelie Rutherford, Global Security Newswire
Nov. 15, 2013, 8:02 a.m.

A new U.N. agency re­port finds that Ir­an has slowed work on its nuc­le­ar pro­gram in re­cent months, but the rev­el­a­tion has not swayed Is­raeli op­pos­i­tion to cur­rent mul­tina­tion­al ne­go­ti­ations with Tehran.

The Vi­enna-based In­ter­na­tion­al Atom­ic En­ergy Agency on Thursday com­pleted its most re­cent quarterly re­port on Ir­an, which shows the closely watched coun­try has made few changes to its urani­um-en­rich­ment ef­forts since Au­gust.

The re­port cov­ers the peri­od since the mod­er­ate Has­san Rouh­ani be­came pres­id­ent in Au­gust. Since then, Ir­an has par­ti­cip­ated in talks with six na­tions about curb­ing its nuc­le­ar activ­it­ies in ex­change for the eas­ing of pun­it­ive eco­nom­ic sanc­tions levied against Tehran for its sus­pec­ted in­ten­tion of de­vel­op­ing an atom­ic-weapons cap­ab­il­ity.

The doc­u­ment shows that Ir­an ad­ded four cent­ri­fuge ma­chines at is Natanz and For­dow en­rich­ment fa­cil­it­ies since Au­gust, com­pared to the thou­sands it in­stalled earli­er this year. Ir­an made no ma­jor ad­di­tions to the con­tro­ver­sial Arak heavy-wa­ter re­act­or since the pre­vi­ous quarterly as­sess­ment. The re­port also says that Ir­an’s total amount of 20-per­cent-en­riched urani­um only rose about 10 kilo­grams in re­cent months — to 196 kilo­grams, which is be­low the level needed to build a nuc­le­ar weapon, ac­cord­ing to an ana­lys­is by the Wash­ing­ton-based Arms Con­trol As­so­ci­ation.

“While this re­port in­dic­ates that Ir­an has made a polit­ic­al de­cision to pause the ex­pan­sion of its en­rich­ment cap­ab­il­it­ies, it could quickly re­verse course and nearly double its num­bers of op­er­at­ing cent­ri­fuges” if a deal to halt the ad­vance in Ir­an’s nuc­le­ar pro­gram, ad­dress pro­lif­er­a­tion con­cerns and im­prove in­ter­na­tion­al in­spect­ors’ mon­it­or­ing cap­ab­il­it­ies is not reached soon, the as­so­ci­ation warned.

Ir­an next Wed­nes­day is set to re­sume ne­go­ti­ations with the five per­man­ent U.N. Se­cur­ity Coun­cil mem­bers plus Ger­many about its nuc­le­ar activ­it­ies, which it in­sists are peace­ful.

Is­raeli Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Net­an­yahu has cri­ti­cized the pro­spect of lessen­ing sanc­tions against Ir­an while it re­tains its nuc­le­ar pro­gram.

“I am not im­pressed with re­ports that we hear that Ir­an has not ex­pan­ded its nuc­le­ar fa­cil­it­ies and the reas­on for that is they don’t need to,” the Is­raeli lead­er said, ac­cord­ing to Re­u­ters. “They’ve got enough fa­cil­it­ies, enough cent­ri­fuges to de­vel­op and to com­plete the fis­sile ma­ter­i­al which is at the core of an atom­ic bomb.”

Is­rael has many sup­port­ers in the U.S. Con­gress, where sen­at­ors are con­sid­er­ing ex­pand­ing sanc­tions against Ir­an.

Pres­id­ent Obama on Thursday im­plored Con­gress to al­low dip­lo­mat­ic talks with Ir­an to con­tin­ue, say­ing that a mil­it­ary re­sponse to Ir­a­ni­an nuc­le­ar de­vel­op­ment is pos­sible but not de­sir­able, ac­cord­ing to the Los Angeles Times.

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