With the IAEA set to discuss Iran during today’s session of the Board of Governors meeting, the European Union has made available to reporters the comments that it intends to deliver to the IAEA’s board members. The comments describe Iran’s defiance of the Security Council as ‘troubling’ and warn that “it brings us closer to the moment when Iran will have fissile material for a weapon, if it chose to increase their degree of enrichment.”
Though it concedes that the evidence “remains to be verified,” the statement concludes that what is available so far “leads one to think that the Iran has methodically pursued a program aimed at acquiring the nuclear bomb.”
Iran has been enriching uranium in some 4,000 active centrifuges, but only to the low levels required for civilian power generation. The uranium is intended for use in a Russian-built nuclear power plant which is nearing completion on the Gulf coast.
Much concern has been expressed that as Iran improves its enrichment capability it is fast approaching the quantity of low-level enriched uranium which could hypothetically be further enriched to the amount needed for a nuclear weapon. However, the IAEA has certified that Iran has not diverted any of its nuclear material to any such purpose, making this speculation.
The IAEA has accused Iran of blocking its probe into other allegations relating to documents from a stolen laptop. Iran insists that the documents are forgeries and that it will not respond to every single claim that comes along about its activities. The IAEA claims the documents are “very credible.”
Iran has expressed concern that the additional probes would pose security concerns and require them to expose portions of their conventional defense programs that have no nuclear dimensions. Mohammed ElBaradei denies trying to “pry” into Iran’s conventional arsenal, and has urged Iran to comply with the additional protocol.
Iran had been voluntarily cooperating with the protocol before the IAEA reported them to the United Nations Security Council in 2006. Iran’s parliament had made the cooperation conditional and the move obliged the government to halt its implementation of the additional protocol. One Iranian MP suggested in an interview yesterday that his government might formally ratify the protocol after all if the case returns to the IAEA from the Security Council.