In his first board meeting as the new chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mr. Yukiya Amano made clear that he does not believe Iran has been cooperating with the agency’s efforts to assess the current state of the Iranian nuclear program. Mr. Amano made statements before a thirty-five-nation board meeting of the IAEA in Vienna indicating that Iran has continued to avoid agency demands for verification of non-diversion of nuclear materials. Analysts have noted this as the first signal that Mr. Amano will take hard-line stance towards Iran with respect to its nuclear ambitions when compared to his IAEA predecessor, Mr. Mohamed El-Baradei.
The logical extension of this hard-line stance is a greater push for sanctions. The IAEA operates as the nuclear watchdog for the UN Security Council and could have influence in persuading China and Russia to sign on to sanctions. China and Russia have veto power on the security council and have voiced opposition to sanctions because of the high level of Iranian oil they import. Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mr. Manouchehr Mottaki, rejected Mr. Amano’s statements, noting that Iran has cooperated with the IAEA and plans to continue cooperating. Iran claims that its nuclear efforts are purely for power generation and medical use. Iran has also alleged that the IAEA has been influenced by US interests.
The IAEA’s stricter stance towards Iran comes in the wake of Iran’s announcement to increase uranium enrichment to twenty percent and build ten new enrichment facilities throughout the country. Additionally, Secretary Clinton was recently quoted in a tour of the Middle East as worrying that the Revolutionary Guard has supplanted the Iranian government. Read more here.