Friday, February 13, 2004

More on Iran's lies to IAEA, the EU, and the WTO

More news on the recent story that Iran lied, again, to the International Atomic Energy Agency regarding its nuclear program:

International inspectors have discovered that Iran hid blueprints for a powerful device to enrich uranium, in an apparent breach of Tehran's promise last year to disclose all of its nuclear activities, officials in Vienna and Washington said Thursday.

The discovery of the concealed blueprints for a state-of-the-art centrifuge, which could be used to enrich uranium for civilian reactors or nuclear bombs, raised questions about whether Tehran also has bought designs for a nuclear weapon from the same black-market sources, the officials said.

Washington will discuss with its allies whether to ask the International Atomic Energy Agency to refer Iran's nuclear activities to the United Nations Security Council for debate, U.S. officials said. Washington has not yet decided whether to advocate international sanctions against Iran, and will await a report from the IAEA next week before deciding what course to take, they said.

The IAEA Board of Governors is scheduled to meet March 8-10 in Vienna.

"This is the smoking gun," said Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Washington-based Nonproliferation Policy Education Center. "They lied — again."

Iran has maintained that its nuclear program is strictly for civilian purposes.

But John R. Bolton, the U.S. undersecretary of State for arms control, said Thursday in Berlin, "There's no doubt in our mind that Iran continues to pursue a nuclear weapons program."

In spite of this, the European Union is "spearheading" an effort to allow Iran to join the WTO. The US is opposed:

The United States this week found itself increasingly isolated in opposing Iran's application for membership in the World Trade Organization.

The European Union spearheaded a push to admit Iran at a meeting of the agency's ruling General Council on Wednesday, backed by a cross section of rich and developing countries.

Candidate countries must be given the right of membership "regardless of political considerations," said EU Ambassador Carlo Trojan, who said the organization "fully supports" the application and believes accession would promote economic reforms in Iran.

Other countries that spoke in support of Iran included China, India, Venezuela, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Switzerland and New Zealand. Tanzania took the floor on behalf of an informal group of developing countries.

Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Peter Allgeier was unmoved by the appeals, refusing to budge from the position taken by the Bush administration since Iran's application for membership was first taken up in May 2001.

"We are reviewing [Iran's request] and there's no change at this point," he said.


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