IAEA: Iran Continues to Defy UN

[Washington Post] Karen DeYoung - Iran has again defied UN demands to suspend its nuclear enrichment programs, according to a report issued Wednesday by the International Atomic Energy Agency, leading Bush administration officials to demand increased pressure on Tehran. The IAEA report comes amid tension within the administration over how aggressively to respond to the continued Iranian defiance on a range of issues, including its nuclear program and support for international terrorism and violent insurgents in Iraq. Vice President Cheney's office and hard-liners on the National Security Council staff think the current carrot-and-stick strategy leans too far in the direction of carrots. At the same time, the State Department recently succeeded in getting President Bush's authorization to hold direct talks with Tehran on the situation in Iraq - something the president had repeatedly said he would not permit without a change in Tehran's behavior. The U.S. and Iranian ambassadors to Iraq are due to begin a dialogue in Baghdad on Monday. The IAEA report said that during a surprise visit on May 13, nuclear inspectors found eight operating enrichment cascades - each with 164 centrifuges, for a total of 1,312 - being fed uranium hexafloride at the underground facility near Natanz. Five additional cascades were in various stages of completion. The number was more than four times the total number of centrifuges operating at the time of the last IAEA report, in February. But the level of enrichment - less than 5% - is substantially lower than the 90% required to make a nuclear weapon, and it is unclear how much Iran is producing and how smoothly the complicated machines are operating.

2007-05-24 01:00:00

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