Gregory Schulte, RFE/RL
The UN nuclear watchdog says its investigation into
intelligence allegations of secret atom bomb research in Iran has reached a
standstill because of Iranian noncooperation. In its latest report, issued this
week, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also says Iran continues to
defy UN demands by refusing to suspend its uranium enrichment program.
RFE/RL Radio Farda correspondent Hossein Aryan spoke about the report with
Gregory Schulte, the U.S. ambassador to the IAEA in Vienna.
RFE/RL: In the light of IAEA chief Muhammad el-Baradei's
report, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's envoy at the IAEA, says that the latest
report endorses the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program. What is your view
Gregory Schulte: My goodness. I mean, Ambassador Soltanieh must
have read a different report. The report that I read, it was a progress report
that showed zero progress. One IAEA official said it demonstrated gridlock. I
actually think it shows a roadblock. And the roadblock has been erected by the
authorities of Iran.
At every junction, on every request, they are saying "no" to the IAEA
inspectors. The IAEA wants Iran to implement the Additional Protocol; Iran
refuses. The IAEA has asked for access to the workshops where centrifuges are
being built; Iran refuses. The IAEA has asked for early information on new
nuclear sites; Iran refuses. The IAEA has asked a whole series of questions
about weaponization -- and that is the term meaning indications that Iran has
worked on the design of a nuclear device and its integration into a delivery
system -- and Iran said "no."
And, in fact, the refusal of Iran for at least a third time in a row to address
weaponization is in the words of the [IAEA] Director-General Mr. el-Baradei "a
serious concern." Iran is stonewalling here. We all recognize Iran's right to
peaceful use of nuclear technology, but Iran also has an obligation to cooperate
with the IAEA, and Iran's leaders are failing in that obligation.
RFE/RL: Iranian officials stress that all claims regarding
Iran's activities, tests, or developing nuclear weapons are based on false
documents and made-up data. They also stress that Iran asked the IAEA to provide
the original U.S. documents and data but that has not materialized. What is this
Schulte: Well, first off, the inspectors consider the
indications of weaponization to be very credible, very serious. That is why they
have briefed the board about them. That is why they have put them in the report.
In fact, the report I have in front of me talks about how this information about
weaponization has been derived from multiple sources over different periods of
time, detailed in content, and generally consistent.
This is not material from the United States. This is material the IAEA says they
have gotten from about 10 different countries, and it is not just studies. It is
indication that Iran has engaged in studies, engineering work, testing,
procurement, all related to the design of a nuclear weapon and the integration
into a delivery system like the Shahab-3 missile. This is a matter of serious
Ambassador [to the IAEA Ali Asgar] Soltaneih and
other Iranian authorities are trying to avoid addressing this by claiming it's
falsified or by claiming that somehow it's outside the mandate of the IAEA, but
it is not outside the mandate of the IAEA. The Security Council has told the
IAEA to look into this and the inspectors consider this quite seriously. In
fact, another part of the report in front of me says that the documentation was
sufficiently comprehensive and detailed that it needed to be taken seriously.
We want a very different type of
relationship with Iran. We want to cooperate with Iran, but Iran's
leaders have to make the choice first.
The inspectors posed a series of questions to Iran. They asked to meet specific
individuals. They asked for access to specific workshops, and Iran has denied to
provide that access. If Iranian authorities really want to show that they
weren't conducting weaponization, then they should open their books. They should
welcome inspectors in instead of keeping them out. And if Iran in fact was
conducting some weaponization activities, well, they should provide a full
disclosure and allow the IAEA to ascertain that they are not continuing.
RFE/RL: The IAEA report is to be submitted soon to the UN
Security Council. In light of the Georgia crisis and the tension between the
United States and Russia, are you expecting Russia to cooperate with the United
Schulte: Well, I just met with the Russian ambassador, and in
fact I met with the ambassadors from Russia, China, and France, and the U.K. and
Germany -- the six countries involved here in Vienna -- and it is fully our
intention to continue to work together to implement the dual-track strategy. I
know that there are authorities in Iran who are suggesting that the six are no
longer together, but they are together. And the six are very much committed,
together with Russia, to a dual-track strategy of offering a negotiated way out
to the Iranian authorities, one that has very generous terms, one in which the
United States will sit down with Iran and others as an equal at the table.
All that Iran has to do is suspend the uranium-enrichment activities that it
doesn't need for a civil program but which have given such concern to the
But the second track is to continue to move forward with sanctions. The United
States recently put some additional sanctions in place against the Iranian
shipping line that has been involved in some illicit procurement activities. The
European Union has put additional sanctions in place, and we will be talking to
our partners about additional steps the Security Council could take, too.
Unfortunately, what Iran's authorities are doing is they are making the wrong
choice. The choice they should be making is to cooperate with the IAEA, explain
their past activities, come clean, allow the IAEA inspectors the access they
need and then, rather than try to confront the international community, take
advantage of the major offer that still is on the table. But if they don't make
this choice, they are by default making another choice and that is to leave Iran
increasingly isolated, increasingly under sanctions, and no one wants that in
We want a very different type of relationship with Iran. We want to cooperate
with Iran, but Iran's leaders have to make the choice first.
... Payvand News - 09/18/08 ... --
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