United States policymakers as well as the International Atomic Energy Agency have expressed concerns that Iran could enrich enough uranium necessary to produce one or more nuclear bombs by mid-2014 according to a new report. This has led a group of U.S. nonproliferation experts to say that the country should strengthen sanctions on Tehran before it is too late.
President Obama has said that the United State has drawn a so-called “red line” that Iran's nuclear program cannot cross, and warned that the U.S. will use military action to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon if that line is crossed. The report mentions that the U.S. should send a “crystal clear” message to Iran that it is not bluffing when they say military force will be used if Tehran continues its quest to possess nuclear weapons. However, nonproliferation experts urge the U.S. to do all it can to pressure Iran because it will be more difficult to discourage their nuclear program militarily once they have enough uranium to produce a weapon. According to the report, Iran would have enough time to build a secret site to enrich uranium or store centrifuges by mid-2014. David Albright, the president for the Institute for Science and International Security stresses that no such secret site exists now, but is concerned that Iran will build a secret site to enrich uranium.
This is definitely something that should not be taken lightly by the U.S. and the international community. Another concern brought up by the IAEA is that Iran’s nuclear program has a military component which goes against the nation’s word that their nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. The report goes on to suggest that the U.S. should impose a type of “de facto international embargo on all investments in and trade with, Iran,” if Tehran does not follow resolutions set forth by the UN Security Council.
If that is not enough to get the attention of the international community, Spanish police seized material they believed was intended for Iran’s nuclear program while they inspected a truck at a toll booth in northern Spain. According to authorities two people were arrested, and the truck contained 44 valves of nickel and chrome alloy that are optimal for using in the nuclear industry. Other items found by authorities included export documents to Iran, bank statements, and computer information. Incidents like these reinforce the need of thorough searches and cooperation by the international community in an effort to deal with Iran’s desire to build its nuclear program and acquire nuclear weapons.
While Iran certainly is not showing any desire to slow its efforts to enrich uranium and possess nuclear weapons, a team from the IAEA is set to visit the country on January 16. The IAEA officials are particularly interested in accessing the Parchin military complex, which is suspected of housing nuclear materials and other nuclear work. However, Iran's Foreign Ministry stipulates that it will allow IAEA officials to inspect a military complex they are interested in visiting, only if their country’s right to enrich uranium is recognized by the U.S. and other western powers. Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said, “If we reach an agreement where Iran’s nuclear rights are fully recognized, meaning the right to possess nuclear science and the full nuclear cycle toward peaceful goals, Iran will be ready to take necessary measures to allay concerns expressed by the IAEA.”
This is certainly an example of Iran attempting to play hardball with the IAEA and the international community, which has led to doubt as to whether the scheduled visit by IAEA officials will take place and lead to broad inspections which the agency sought. The IAEA will have to decide whether to succumb to Iran’s ultimatum or work with the international community to deal with this ongoing matter.
Iran unquestionably seems bent on growing its nuclear program with one day being able to build nuclear weapons. This presents a challenging dilemma for the U.S. and the international community and a dilemma that will have long lasting ramification if it is not dealt with properly and immediately.