Iran: Nuclear Watchdog Demands Access

Iran is under pressure both from the United States and the United Nations this morning. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the “nuclear watchdog agency” for the United Nations, announced that they’d had enough of Iran’s stalling, according to a BBC report. Iran must open itself to inspection to make sure that its nuclear programs are in compliance with international law.

The IAEA hasn’t been able to inspect Iran’s supposedly peaceful nuclear program since 2005, and Director general Yukiya Amano betrayed some impatience in his recent address to the IAEA’s board. According to Amano, Iran needs to grant access to a site in Parchin, just outside Tehran, where the BBC said that the IAEA has “long suspected nuclear weapons research is taking place.”

While Amano expressed the demand in diplomatic terms, Vice-President Joe Biden spoke more bluntly. Biden told a pro-Israel lobbying organization this morning that President Obama is “not bluffing” about preventing Iran from getting its hands on nuclear weapons. Paul Eckert, reporting for Reuters, said that Biden made some strong statements when he addressed the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPIC) today at their annual conference.

That report quoted Biden as saying, “The president of the United States cannot and does not bluff. President Barack Obama is not bluffing.” The VP added that the US is not “looking for war” but wouldn’t rule it out if Iran wouldn’t cooperate with the talks.

The sense of urgency has grown in the past month, when it was widely reported in The Telegraph and elsewhere that Iran was building 3,000 uranium enrichment centrifuges. While Iran says that it’s processing the uranium for peaceful purposes, it’s hard for Western observers to understand why they would need so much.

Iran Watch, which purports to track the status of Iran’s nuclear development program, said that Iran may now have as many as 20,000 centrifuges, including the advanced centrifuges that they began installing sometime in February of this year.

As reported by the Fars News Agency, a high official close to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Advisor in Oil Affairs Esfandiar Rahim Mashayee, was quick to fire back. In a meeting with the Belarusian Ambassador, he said, “Pressures on countries like Iran and Belarus will come to an end soon.” He didn’t say why the pressures would end, just that they would.

Implied threat, just another war of words, or some last-minute blustering before Iran finally capitulates to the demands of the nuclear watchdog agency? What do you think?