Yukiya Amano IAEAVIENNA: The UN atomic watchdog will still have a hard time answering crucial questions about whether Iran seeks nuclear weapons despite winning better access for inspectors, the UN’s top inspector Yukiya Amano told Breaking Defense in an exclusive interview Monday at the agency’s headquarters here.

Amano said the main problem going forward is that Iran refuses to implement an Additional Protocol that would allow inspections of sites beyond those where the watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency knows nuclear material is used or stored. This protocol is the key to making more rapid progress in verifying the peaceful or military nature of Iran’s nuclear work. “The implementation of the Additional Protocol is very important to provide assurance that all nuclear activity in Iran is for a peaceful purpose but we are not yet at that point. . . . We are at an early stage of clarifying and resolving the issues,” he said.

Iran had applied the Additional Protocol in the early days of the crisis that began in 2002 when Iran was discovered to have hidden almost two decades of nuclear work. Iran has signed the Additional Protocol but its parliament has not ratified the measure. Iran stopped applying the protocol when the United Nations Security Council began to move in 2006 to imposing sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

Sanctions from the United Nations and individual countries now target Iran’s oil trade and ability to do business abroad, severely hurting the Iranian economy.

Amano’s comments here, made the day before the start of multilateral talks aimed at a comprehensive agreement to guarantee the Islamic Republic does not build nuclear weapons, add to growing signs that progress will be — at best — slow. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameini said Monday that he was not optimistic about the talks, even if he did not oppose them. He said the talks were “of no use and will not lead anywhere,” according to the Iranian news agency IRNA.

A senior US official noted here that President Barack Obama has said the negotiations have only a 50 percent chance of success. Iran and the United States have been adversaries, without diplomatic relations, for over three decades since the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

The choices ahead are “very difficult decisions,” the American official said. “When the stakes are this high, and the devil is truly in the details, one has to take the time to ensure the confidence of the international community in the result,” the official said.

Both US and Iranian officials have said that, while they want to move as quickly as possible on freezing the level of Iran’s nuclear work for the talks to be able to proceed, the initial six-month negotiating period for a comprehensive agreement could very well double.

A major problem is that the technical problems outlined by Amano and the political hurdles referred to by both US and Iranian leaders could lead to increased pressure from hardliners in Israel and the US Congress to impose more sanctions. The clock started ticking on the six-month negotiating process on January 20 when Iran gave UN nuclear inspectors increased monitoring rights, according to the interim agreement known as the Joint Plan of Action.

This plan gave the IAEA more access to Iranian sites and officials. Despite these “steps forward” after years of deadlock, IAEA chief Amano said “more remains to be done.”

The IAEA is settling for smaller steps in order to make some progress. The agency is no longer insisting that new inspections start with a visit to the controversial military site of Parchin, where explosives testing is suspected to have taken place to make the trigger for an atomic bomb. “We have agreed to a step-by-step approach,” Amano said. “I don’t think we have a problem that Parchin is not included on the first step.”

This means that concern over possible military aspects of Iran’s nuclear program will almost certainly not be fully addressed over the next six months. But there has been recent progress. Amano said Iran agreed earlier this month to discuss electronic bridgewires, that can be used as nuclear triggers, part of an agreement on seven “practical” steps reached in Tehran.

The emphasis is on an overall approach that increases transparency, rather than making the military issue a make-it-or-break-it condition. Implementing the seven practical steps, plus six measures agreed to last November, “will give us more knowledge of Iran’s activities,” said Amano, insisting that this would be an achievement, even if not a complete resolution of the IAEA inquest. “Negotiating with Iran is not easy, but we are producing concrete results step by step,” Amano said.

He said there were great “constraints” in technical talks with Iran, as new Iranian leaders President Hassan Rouhani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif are under pressure from various political factions at home, even as expectations for a positive result in the talks are high. Amano praised the Iranian negotiating team as “very prudent, cautious and intelligent” and echoed comments from other world leaders that this may be the best chance at a comprehensive deal.

The question now, as final negotiations begin on an overall settlement that would win nuclear assurances from Iran and result in the lifting of sanctions against it, is whether the IAEA’s success is too little too late or enough to help talks succeed and avoid a possible US or Israeli military strike against Iran’s atomic facilities.

Michael Adler, an expert on Iranian nuclear issues at the Woodrow Wilson Center, writes regularly on the issue for Breaking Defense.

Comments

  • Gary Church

    What is there to say? What is there to discuss? They are going to build a bomb eventually. The question is what will they do with it? If the nukes start going off in Israel and Iran and Pakistan and India and Korea, what will the other nuclear powers do? We need to get this one right and have a clear understanding between the superpowers so nuclear exchanges do not lead to escalation.

    • canoeal

      By that time it will be too late…

  • fafniro

    Why not a nuclear-free Mid-East? Who has already introduced nuclear and chemical weapons into the area? Shhhhhh.

    • Gary Church

      Do you have a point or is it just Israel-bashing you are engaging in?

      “Whatever is happening is happening because Israel has introduced nuclear
      weapons intro the Middle East. Fact is, the initial aggression
      necessary to establish the state of Israel is still being resisted.”

      So….if Israel gives up it’s arsenal that it will not admit to then Iran will give up trying to make bombs which it will not admit to? Do you really think that is possible? Before you go all Bronx on me I am not for or against Israel. But I am not for Iran- not when they talk just as crazy as North Korea.

      • jgelt

        Gary,
        Cite me some Iranian crazy talk. What I have heard up to this point was mistranslated, misquoted or quoted out of context. You may have some source I haven’t heard yet.

        • Gary Church

          puh-leez. Do your own homework.

          • jgelt

            No seriously. Every media quote I’ve seen about Iranian leadership talking about “wiping Israel off the map” have been false or misleading. Which Iranian crazy talk are you referring to? It is used as part of the justification for the current positioning of U.S. foriegn policy and the positioning of our troops abroad. Does Iranlack western tact? Yes. Do they say they’d like to see Israel gone? Yes. Have they said they are going to initiate hostile action to eliminate Israel? Not really.

            Ahmadinejad’s statements all seem to have 2 interpretations. Ones from the main stream media (MSM) and ones from translators and linguists on line. The MSM really wants everybody to fear and hate Iran. You are stating that “they talk just as crazy as North Korea.” My research shows your view to be unsupported opinion. Do a search on “wiped off the earth controversy.” You will get thousands of results saying that the translation is at the very least questionable, if not out and out bogus. Iran’s “crazy talk” is hardly a settled issue.
            To put it into perspective. If Israel and Iran were to annihilate each other, I could really care less. Unfortunately too many people use this “crazy talk” as part of the justification for why we U.S. needs to meddling in world affairs. I’m not inferring that you are a pro interventionist. I’m merely registering my disagreement with views others may use for that purpose. To be honest I’d love to hear some non-biased sources for translations of North Korea’s crazy talk as well. However, as they are a nuclear power, the U.S. is very unlikely to go to war with them, so that desire is more informational than pressing.

          • Gary Church

            The translations have been direct and accurate for years concerning Iran’s crazy threats. The same goes for North Korea. Not even worth proving you wrong- anymore than proving the people who think the moon landing was fake. Just drop it.

          • jgelt

            A man who speaks Hangul and Farsi with absolute fluency? Gary you’re a quite the Renaissance man. I hate to burst your bubble, but not everything that comes out of mainstream media is totally factual. You provide no citations nor examples. It’s not worth proving me wrong, because you can’t. You mentioned you lean left. Would an interview performed by PBS with the UN translator for Ahmadinejad have sufficient weight with you?

          • jgelt

            Remember the the video that came out of North Korea that had “We Are the World” playing in the background, with a spaceship orbiting the planet, and scenes of New York burning? MSM told us that it was depicting a N. Korean Nuclear attack on the U.S. Whoops, they didn’t even bother to translate it, that would ruin the narrative. http://www.redstate.com/2013/02/07/north-korean-dreams-of-america-new-translation/
            Did anybody in MSM retract or correct that story? I didn’t hear it.

    • Don Bacon

      The Arab League, with Iran support, has been pushing for the ME as a NFZ for years, but the US stops them to protect Israel.
      Polls of ME Arabs indicate that they (naturally) fear the US and Isarel which have nukes, and not Iran which doesn’t.

      • yochanan benyehudah

        Thats what they say, but it is a lie, they want nuclear weapons and will use them if they can get them. You had best read the Quran and see what muslims really believe in.

  • ricksuddes

    It is almost time to drop them a “note” that is a 22,500 pound attention getter! We have
    68 “notes” close by that can play one hell of tune!

    • Don Bacon

      There are also 40,000 US troops in the Gulf area and a US naval fleet that are targets for Iran cruise and ballistic missiles, plus torpedoes and mines.

      • hawkeye4610

        You seem to be a sexual intellect……..

        • yochanan benyehudah

          Nope, what he is is a moral corupt liberal coward and traitor.

          • none ofyourbusiness

            Well said… by an obvious complicit neo con Zionist/dual citizen? Guess you’re not a fan of whistleblower, Mordecha Vanunu either? The hypocrisy is deeper than pond scum!

  • nadya suleman

    WE SHOULD KILL EVERY SINGLE CHRISTIAN AND MUSLIM IN THE WORLD- THEN WE SHALL HAVE PEACE….IM GOING TO NUKE THEM ALL

    • Love a Muslim

      Now killing atheist would be a solution. There are enough bullets to do that.

      However, there are’nt enough bullets in the world to kill all Christians and Muslims.

      Besides, who would listen to a dork anyway?

    • none ofyourbusiness

      Geez….are you for real? Sure the See Eye A isn’t watching you buddy? If not they need to!

  • true believer

    israel has nuclear bomb, usa has nuclear bomb; why iran can’t have it.

    • Santa Claus HoHoHo

      Because Iran said in the end they will destroy Israel and any other “infidel” country that supports them.

      I have yet, to this day, never heard the U.S. -OR- Israel come out and say that they intend to destroy another country because they were Islamic.

      Khemenei is a lunatic who is conviced that God talks to him. He also states that no country in the world is “holier” than Iran and that Iran is the “future of the World.”

      Need I say more?

      • Don Bacon

        Iran destroy Israel? It was never said.
        The US continually says: All options are on the table.
        Khamanei a lunatic? Iran is successfully resisting the most powerful country the world has ever seen. So he’s crazy like a fox.
        No Christian has ever said god talks to him? I didn’t know that.
        Need you say more? No.

        • Parvin

          Their table is full of termites. Israel and US don’t have the guts to attack Iran. If they did it was done under the idiot Bush. May be a Clinton presidency will attack Iran but then it may be the end of America and Israel as we know it. The table is falling apart.

      • canoeal

        You are correct,,, But the libs still don’t accept that.

      • Parvin

        How about Nothingyahoo, the barking dog of Israel? Is he sane? He has been telling us that Iran will have a nuke in six months, a year, two years for the last 20 plus years. So you believe him. Khomenei is a Mullah but he is not a barking dog. All Muslims want is for Israel to leave the occupied territories and let Palestinians have their own state. And that is all.

    • yochanan benyehudah

      Iran states unconditional that it will use the nuclewar weapon as soon as it gets one, it constantly threatens Israel and The US. Now answer this, “DOES ISRAEL THREATEN ANYONE WITH NUCLEAR WEAPONS?” The answer is NO! Perhaps you should be awarded the dumbest blond award, because you are really dumb>

      • jgelt

        Please cite this source where Iran will use nuclear weapons as soon as it will get them. Is the “Samson Option” total fiction then? Israel has threatened to use nuclear weapons on every country in range of it’s missiles and nuclear capable planes.

  • http://genelalor.com Gene Lalor

    More bullshit!

  • plewdawg

    Crawl into a pit of vipers, expect to get bit.

  • Don Bacon

    Yukiya Amano is a US puppet who he says whatever script the US hands him.

    US diplomatic cables published by WikiLeaks which revealed Amano’s assiduous courting of American support. In an October 2009 cable, the US charge d’affaires, Geoffrey Pyatt, wrote: “Amano reminded [the] ambassador on several occasions that he would need to make concessions to the G-77 [the developing countries group], which correctly required him to be fair-minded and independent, but that he was solidly in the US court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.”

    When Yukiya Amano took over as the head of the UN nuclear watchdog last year, American diplomats described him as “director general of all states, but in agreement with us.” The US provides the majority of the IAEA operating funds.

    • yochanan benyehudah

      And your a dam lying liberal who is against anything that america stands for.

  • steve vitola

    Something will be done after first nuclear blast caused by IRAN. By then they will have inter-con nuclear missles aimed at Isreal and US. They are stringing the international community along, as they continue building a nuclear arsenal. The international countries will have to band together and invade, to stop IRAN.

    • canoeal

      Again, by then it is too late. A nuclear bomb, detonated anywhere in the region, will cause the destruction of society as we know it. the power structure the oil feilds, the center of Muslim hate…It will bring destruction not seen, even in a Past world war.

    • Don Bacon

      The US intelligence community says you are wrong. There is no evidence of an Iran nuclear weapons program.

      Other countries have developed nuclear weapons, but they have never been used against a country that also had nukes. That would be suicidal.

      Only the US has used nukes, against a powerless Japan, to kill many innocent civilians.

  • Mike Barry

    Obama isn’t going to take them on so why should they fear the formerly great USA? We’re all talk under this lob headed Kenyan…

    • Gary Church

      Tell that to UBL. The cops that comment on this site are the most rabid right wing wackos I have ever seen.

    • Gary Church

      That “lob headed Kenyan” seems to have taken care of UBL; New York likes him- well, most of the people there are grateful I imagine. Especially the police and firefighters.

      • Mike Barry

        You’re dreaming…we loathe him because his asinine policies will get more of us killed. Nice try but you’re making it up as you go along. Like most Socialist Democrats…

  • Larry Sirhall

    If we look at what has happened, it really is quite simple. Islam has been constantly at war with Christianity since approximately 629 A.D. Apart from being almost Neanderthal in action, these Islamic countries will never get along with the West or Israel. The real question is how far we will tolerate their problematic existence. Doing what they do best, yelling, screaming, dancing and shooting guns into the air is one thing, essentially threatening to wipe another country off the map is quite another. If nothing else, the Iranians should ask the Japanese just how horrible nuclear bombs are for living creatures. If there is even one rational neuron in their collective psyche, then they won’t pursue this nuclear business as it really is bad business. Larry

    • Don Bacon

      Islamic countries have invaded and occupied exactly how many Christian countries? None.
      But Christian countries have invaded several Islamic counties resulting in hundreds of thousands deaths, injuries and displacements.
      So who’s “Neanderthal?”
      Regarding Iran, it has done nothing wrong with its peaceful nuclear program — unlike Israel which won’t even sign the NPT as Iran has.

  • none ofyourbusiness

    Exactly how many U.S. military bases in foreign countries surround Iran? Exactly! So the prospects of Iran ever nuking the U.S. or Israel is moot! WHO first tested the Stuxnet virus? http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/06/world/middleeast/16stuxnet.html ??? How about WHO was training, supporting and financing an Iranian dissident group (MEK/MAK?) to assassinate nuclear scientist(s) in Iran? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/02/09/iranian-nuclear-scientist-killed_n_1264903.html The kool aid well is deeper than pond scum!

  • canoeal

    Nothing is going to change in the land “beyond the Euphrates”…

  • Parvin

    Nuclear energy for all nuclear weapons for none. Amano should spend sometime on Israel’s nuclear weapons. After all he is a puppet of Israel, otherwise why would he travel to Israel to discuss Iran. IAEA is not an independent agency and it is like UN a mouth piece of America and Israel. Good for Iran don’t give in to these bullies. Defend your country Iran and if you want to build the bomb build it. So what US has more than 5000. Why shouldn’t Iran have one?

  • http://www.twitter.com/changeirannow Change Iran Now

    Iran wants sanctions relief without really giving up anything all the while they continually seek ways to skirt current sanctions. The true measure of Iran’s intent is how they have always sought to evade sanctions and build their Nuke program in secrecy. These negotiations are not any different

    • Don Bacon

      Why should Iran give up anything? Iran has done nothing wrong. Iran’s civilian nuclear program is under full IAEA surveillance, unlike in Israel, which has nuclear weapons.

      Your intent to “change Iran now” isn’y going to happen, nor should it. Iran is for Iranians, of course.