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US See No Breakthrough Despite Iranian Nuclear Pledge

Tehran has so far been slapped with two sets of UN Security Council sanctions and faces a third for its refusal to suspend sensitive enrichment work. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Jun 26, 2007
The United States said Monday it did not expect a breakthough in the nuclear dispute with Iran despite a pledge by Tehran to develop a blueprint with the UN atomic wathdog to resolve the crisis. After the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it would send inspectors to Iran "as early as practicable" to develop an action plan for resolving issues over its sensitive nuclear program, Washington questioned the Islamic republic's track record in meeting its commitments.

"I don't think Iran's track record is particularly noteworthy or particularly likely to give me or anyone else confidence that anything will come of these of the discussions," said Tom Casey, a spokesman with the State Department.

The IAEA move followed talks between the UN agency's director general Mohamed ElBaradei and Iran's chief negotiator Ali Larijani in Vienna and amid plans by Britain and the United States to step up sanctions targeting Iran's nuclear program.

Larijani had undertaken to define within two months an action plan with the IAEA, which is demanding the possibility of checking on the ground whether Iran's nuclear program has military ambitions as claimed by Western powers.

Casey noted that there were already statements by Iranian officials indicating that the action plan "may not actually lead to a lot" but said that Washington would "wait and see what actually happens.

"We certainly like to see them comply but todate they haven't," he said of the IAEA's demands for comprehensive inspections in Iran.

Tehran has so far been slapped with two sets of UN Security Council sanctions and faces a third for its refusal to suspend sensitive enrichment work.

The oil-rich country insists it only wants to make nuclear fuel to meet its growing energy demands.

On discussions with allies on imposing additional UN Security Council sanctions on Iran, Casey said they were continuing.

"Certainly, people are discussing ideas and elements for a resolution and hopefully we will be moving forward on that in the not too distant future."

related report
UN nuclear inspectors to go to Iran
Vienna (AFP) Jun 25 - Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) are to go to Iran, probably in July, to resolve issues over Tehran's nuclear programme, the UN nuclear watchdog said Monday. The announcement followed talks between IAEA director general Mohamed ElBaradei and Iran's chief negotiator Ali Larijani, who arrived in Vienna unexpectedly on Sunday, IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said in a statement.

"Larijani invited the IAEA to send a team to Tehran to develop an action plan for resolving outstanding issues related to Iran's past nuclear programme," she said.

"The IAEA intends to send a team as early as practicable."

The mission, probably in July, will be headed by IAEA deputy director general Olli Heinonen, who is responsible for safeguard issues, according to a source in Vienna.

He is due this week to visit North Korea to prepare the closure of the plutonium production centre at Yongbyon.

In Tehran, the ISNA news agency reported that "the secretariat of Iran's national security supreme council, (headed by Ali Larijani) confirmed that IAEA inspectors are coming to Iran to develop an action plan for resolving outstanding issues related to Iran's past nuclear programme."

Larijani's second visit to Vienna in the space of 48 hours followed a meeting in Lisbon with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, described by Solana as "very constructive".

On Friday, after meeting ElBaradei, Larijani had undertaken to define within two months an action plan with the IAEA, which is demanding the possibility of checking on the ground whether Iran's nuclear programme has military ambitions. The inspectors' mission is to "agree on how the action plan is going to take shape, details of it, and then implementation will start," a diplomat close to the IAEA told AFP.

"It was these outstanding issues surrounding the past nuclear programme that were the original reasons for the demands by the board and the (United Nations) Security Council for Iran to suspend (uranium enrichment)," he said.

"This is what started it all."

The announcement came as Britain and the United States are reportedly planning to put forward proposals at the UN Security Council to intensify two sets of existing sanctions targeting Iran's nuclear programme.

The new measures would include travel bans, the freezing of bank accounts and inspections of Iranian cargo ships and aircraft.

The West fears Iran's nuclear programme is aimed at producing nuclear weapons. Tehran insists that its ambitions are strictly peaceful, but stands accused of failing to fully cooperate with UN inspections.

Iran, which is a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, was placed under IAEA surveillance in 2003 after the disclosure of suspect secret activities.

In spite of demands from the UN Security Council Iran appears determined to press head with uranium enrichment.

A senior diplomat with ties to the IAEA said that Iran was already operating more than 1,300 centrifuges by mid-May at its Natanz plant and could have 3,000 by the end of July.

Under ideal conditions they could produce enough highly enriched uranium to produce a nuclear weapon within a year at most, the diplomat said.

"Probably if ElBaradei were to report positively, if he were able to say 'we're making progress on the issues' in his next report, the climate could also possibly change, and there would be a better chance for resumption of negotiation," the diplomat said.

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Iran Says Zero Chance Of US Attack
Tehran (AFP) June 23, 2007
A top Iranian security official said on Saturday that there was "zero chance" of a US attack on Iran to thwart its nuclear ambitions, the state IRNA news agency reported. "There is about zero possibility of a US military attack on Iran," deputy interior minister Mohammad Baqer Zolghadr said.







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