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Iran, The I.A.E.A., And The Security Council

The International Atomic Energy Agency, or I-A-E-A, says that Iran has agreed to a timetable to respond to questions about its nuclear program. I-A-E-A Deputy Director-General Olli Heinonen said that Iran's timely compliance in answering unresolved questions would be a "litmus test" of its real intentions.

The U.S. State Department says the United States would welcome Iran's long overdue compliance with I-A-E-A's safeguard requests. But, deputy spokesman Tom Casey says, the U.S. remains skeptical about Iranian government promises:

"They [the Iranian government] ought to have been able to answer them some time ago. And the fact that they have been unable or unwilling to do so for several years about a program that they tried to hide from the world for more than two decades, certainly leaves open a lot of reason for concern."

Mr. Casey says that in addition to refusing to answer questions raised by the I-A-E-A, the Iranian government has failed to meet demands of the United Nations Security Council to stop its uranium enrichment program:

"And the fact that that program is continuing and is moving forward shows that this Iranian regime is continuing on a path of defiance of the international community, rather than in joining with us in negotiations to achieve what they've always said is their stated objective, which is a peaceful civilian nuclear program, designed to generate power for their people."

The government in Tehran has refused to suspend nuclear enrichment, as called for in U-N Security Council Resolutions 1737 and 1747. The result is that Iran is passing up the benefits of an incentives package offered up by Germany and the five permanent members of the Security Council. That package includes assistance to Iran in developing its nuclear energy program. The Iranian people are bearing the burden, says Mr. Casey:

"The Iranian people are suffering as a result of a government that refuses to engage in what is a very positive opportunity to deal with the international community, to achieve power that it claims it needs for the people and for the development of the country, and to work with us to resolve those questions."

Because Iran has refused to stop its uranium enrichment program, it has twice been subjected to U-N sanctions since December 2006. Iran will face additional U-N sanctions, says State Department deputy spokesman Casey, unless it changes its views.