Iran Nuke Concerns Remain; Obama—‘May Not Be Able’ to Close Gap for Deal

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Mark Garten.

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano. Photo Courtesy of UN Photo/Mark Garten.

The latest report on Iran’s nuclear program from the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency still has some serious concerns about Iran’s activities, and in one case it appears they violated the interim agreement reached with major world powers just last year.

Meanwhile, with just two weeks left until the interim deal is set to expire, US President Barack Obama told CBS he isn’t sure a final deal can be reached. In an interview on “Face the Nation” and summarized on CBS’ website, Obama said there is a “final gap” to a nuclear deal with Iran that will give the Islamic Republic sanctions relief in exchange for “lock-tight assurances” they won’t build nuclear weapons. “There’s still a big gap,” said Obama. “We may not be able to get there.”

Obama told CBS that Iran has kept their side of the interim deal, but a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) raises doubts regarding Iran’s compliance. In an analysis of the IAEA report from the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), the think tank notes that Iran “may have violated” the interim deal by feeding uranium into an “advanced centrifuge” not in use when the deal was reached.

As part of the interim agreement, Iran is not supposed to be putting uranium into new centrifuges, which is the process for turning the material into nuclear fuel. However, ISIS noted that previous IAEA reports said that Iran had not fed uranium into one particular centrifuge. Yet in the latest report, Iran has done so.

Overall, it appears that Iran has been fairly consistent in its nuclear behavior according to the ISIS analysis of the report, and in some cases may have even slowed down. But serious concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear activities remain and are getting even harder to resolve.

The IAEA has sought clarification regarding Iranian explosives testing that may be linked to the development of nuclear weapons at the Parchin military site. However, the IAEA’s new report shows that Iranian construction activities at the location probably “further undermined the Agency’s ability to conduct effective verification” of what happened at the site.

ISIS believes that Iran must resolve the IAEA’s concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program, before a final deal with world powers can be reached. Said the ISIS report, “By failing to address the IAEA’s concerns, Iran is complicating, and even threatening, the achievement of a long term nuclear deal.”

(By Joshua Spurlock,, November 9, 2014)

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