U.N. Cites Iran On Nuclear Inspectors
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
NPR's Mike Shuster reports.
MIKE SHUSTER: But now, the IAEA has issued a warning that Iran is making that basic task more and more difficult, says David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security.
DAVID ALBRIGHT: The most striking thing in the report is how Iran is not cooperating with the IAEA on what we would call the traditional safeguards. Iran's been criticized for years for not accepting the advanced safeguards that the IAEA requires. But now you have Iran systematically not cooperating with the IAEA on traditional safeguards at declared nuclear sites.
SHUSTER: Iran says it has the right to ban inspectors because they leaked key information about Iran's nuclear activities, a charge the agency denies. As for the broken seals, Iran says this was entirely accidental, an explanation that Leonard Spector of the Monterey Institute's Center for Non-Proliferation Studies does not find credible.
LEONARD SPECTOR: What we're seeing is an erosion of the quality of IAEA inspections by virtue of a slow activity by the Iranians to try to hold back information, to create ambiguities. And it creates, you know, more uncertainty about the direction of events.
SHUSTER: Just what the international community can do about all this is not clear, but Leonard Spector believes that recent economic sanctions adopted by the U.N., the U.S., the European Union and other key nations are building pressure on Iran.
SPECTOR: And I think they're starting to bite. The Japanese development, where a number of Japanese banks will no longer do business with Iran, was an important one. We'll see it again, I think, shortly, in South Korea. So I think we are in the middle of things. We haven't quite seen the full impact, and therefore it's not unreasonable that we're not seeing Iran blink at this moment. But that may lie ahead.
SHUSTER: That may be what Iran's leaders are thinking, as well. David Albright says they are laying the foundation now for more intense secret work later on.
ALBRIGHT: Right now, the worry isn't so much that Iran would actually divert, but that what it's doing is kind of, in a sense, degrading the inspections. And yet if they're really pressed, they may fix a problem. But overall, they're trying to degrade inspections. So a few years from now, when their centrifuge program is bigger, working better, if they want to divert, they'll have some confidence that the diversion won't be detected for some longer period of time than what the IAEA says.
SHUSTER: Mike Shuster, NPR News.
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