Mohamad el-Baradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, or I-A-E-A, says that Iran is continuing to expand its uranium enrichment capability in defiance of United Nations mandates. In an address to the I-A-E-A's board of governors, Mr. El-Baradei also said the agency was unable "to make any progress in its efforts to resolve outstanding issues relevant to the nature and scope of Iran's nuclear program."
Gregory Schulte is the U.S. Permanent Representative to the I-A-E-A, as well as to the United Nations Office in Vienna and other international organizations in Vienna. He says that the capabilities Iran is pursuing to enrich uranium and produce plutonium are "not necessary to benefit peaceful nuclear technology." But he says they are "necessary to produce fissile material for nuclear weapons."
In the last six months, the U.N. Security Council has passed two resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program. U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says that in the face of Iran's continuing defiance, additional steps are needed:
"We're looking at what we might do within the Security Council. We're also going to be talking bilaterally with friends and allies around the globe about what actions we might take outside the Security Council in the financial area."
Over the past year, the United States has urged other nations, companies, and financial institutions to cut back on their dealings with Iran. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack says those efforts are having an impact:
"Those actions have actually been quite useful in sending a strong message to the Iranians that this is not business as usual, that the world will not tolerate Iran developing a nuclear weapon."
The United States, says Mr. McCormack, is focused on finding "a diplomatic pathway that will result in Iran not getting a nuclear weapon and the international community being assured of that fact."
If Iran suspends nuclear enrichment and reprocessing and comes to the negotiating table, the international community will suspend sanctions. Furthermore, the U.S., Germany, Russia, China, France, and Britain have promised to help Iran develop a peaceful nuclear energy program, under I-A-E-A auspices, and provide other incentives if Tehran meets its nuclear obligations.