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8 Nov, 2011 15:27

Iran nuke dispute: Report raises vocal tsunami

The UN Atomic Agency unveiled its report that claims Iran has worked on developing a nuclear weapon design. This follows the aggressive rhetoric of politicians, calling on Israeli hotheads to curb their angry approach.

Speculation over a possible attack on Iranian nuclear facilities came ahead of the key UN atomic watchdog report, which was released late on Tuesday. Information leaked to the media indicated the IAEA report would provide circumstantial evidence that Tehran has built a testing facility and computer models of warheads. After assessing the information available to it, the AFP news agency stated the information indicates that prior to the end of 2003, activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device took place under a structured program in Iran, and that some activities may still be ongoing. The IAEA is concerned with the work of Iranian nuclear physicists in 2008-2009 saying those studies are not applicable to any other sphere other but building nuclear weapons. "While some of the activities identified in the annex have civilian as well as military applications, others are specific to nuclear weapons," the report said.The Agency also points out at the preparatory work for a nuclear weapons test and detonator development to set off a nuclear charge. The report may trigger more sanctions against Iran, most likely on commercial banks or major companies. But the possibility Washington might go after the Iranian oil or gas sector or the central bank is quite low, reports Reuters citing an anonymous US official.  

Iran: IAEA report is 'politically motivated'

"The report of the International Atomic Energy Agency is unbalanced, unprofessional and politically motivated," Iran's envoy to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, was quoted as saying by Reuters. The report does not contain any new issue, added Soltanieh, who talked to journalist after the report was revealed.The Iranian media say the report is based on documents dating back to 2004, and may have been cooked up by Western special services to back the case against Tehran. Hours before the report release, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad condemned the paper calling the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, a pawn for US interests. On Tuesday, President Ahmadinejad stated  in an interview that his country does not need a nuclear bomb to oppose the US and will rather rely on “mind, logic and culture”. "If America wants to confront the Iranian nation, it will certainly regret the Iranian nation's response," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying by the IRNA news agency.Washington preferred to withhold any comment until the State Department finishes studying the 25-page long report by the Atomic agency. The reaction might not emerge till the next IAEA session scheduled for November 18. Earlier on Tuesday Russian president Dmitry Medvedev issued a grave warning about the consequences of militaristic rhetoric in the Middle East.“We understand how ramped up the passions in the Middle East are, the situation some countries face and the fact that the peace process is stalled. If a militaristic tide is stirred in these circumstances, if threats are voiced, it may provoke very serious consequences,” Dmitry Medvedev said during a joint press conference with his German counterpart, Angela Merkel.He added that the parties involved should “take a breath and calm down,” because otherwise the dispute could lead to a major war and a catastrophe for the whole region.France also voiced strong words against an attack on Iran on Tuesday. The country’s foreign minister, Alain Juppé, said Paris may support a new round of sanctions against Tehran if necessary, but called for parties to refrain from any military action, since it would cause irrevocable damage.The calls for restraint came in the wake of statements by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who said that a strike is more likely than diplomacy and may be used unless “crippling sanctions” against Iran are issued.

‘IAEA outsourced intelligence for Iranian report’

The IAEA report is unlikely to reveal any firm proof of Iran weaponizing its nuclear program, and circumstantial evidence is unreliable, says foreign affairs analyst Richard Heydarian. “The problem with the IAEA report is that it relies heavily on satellite images and data provided by Western intelligence agencies… The case of the Syrian Al-Hasakah Spinning Factory has proved that actually you cannot really rely on satellite images. There is huge room for error,” he told RT.He added that an attack on Iranian nuclear sites is too big a challenge for Israel from the militarily point of view.“Its nuclear facilities are numerous, they are spread across the country, some of them are highly protected and even bunker- busters that the US has given to Israel might not take many of them. Iran has learned from the example of Iraq and has a very sophisticated way of protecting its nuclear facilities,” he said.

Barbara Slavin, a senior fellow at The Atlantic Council think-tank, told RT what the Israelis hope to achieve by saying they do not rule out a military strike against the country is better sanctions.“Ideally what they would like to see is a complete embargo of Iran’s sale of oil and natural gas, but they are not going to get that. What they might get however is a better enforcement of sanctions than those that are already in place, which makes it illegal to provide Iran with any kind of material that can be used for its nuclear or missile program,” she explained.

Former CIA officer Philip Giraldi,  told RT it is the US and Israel that are trying to turn up the heat upon Iran.“I would be very skeptical about this report that’s coming out from the IAEA, because they don’t really have any intelligence capabilities of their own, so they are relying on reports that are coming from other people,” he said. “I would rather suspect those reports are coming from the US and Israel. It is an endless cycle of trying to prove the unprovable,” he added. The Israeli President, Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister all threatened military action against Tehran, and not for the first time. And, according to Giraldi, this time Iran should be taking it more seriously.“It seems to be a more consistent pattern in the debate in the Israeli cabinet earlier this week. Half of the cabinet was in favor of war with Iran as long as the US started the fighting, and the other half was in favor of Israel starting the fighting. If Israel starts the fighting, the US will get involved, so it is basically the same formula. The Israeli government is behaving extremely irrationally, because even senior officials in the Israeli government admit that Iran poses no military threat to Israel,” he concluded.