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E.U., U.S. share U.N. concerns about Iran

VIENNA — The United States and Europe said they share U.N. fears that Tehran may be secretly working on developing nuclear missiles, expressing support Wednesday for new sanctions if Tehran continues to defy Security Council demands.

The comments reflected the International Atomic Energy Agency's change in tone under new director-general Yukiya Amano in its assessment of Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Amano, in a report for this week's board meeting, expressed the possibility that Iran may be working on making a nuclear warhead, with the IAEA suggesting for the first time that Tehran had either resumed such work or never stopped three years ago, as U.S. intelligence agencies thought.

Iran denies any interest in developing nuclear arms. But the report said Iran's resistance to agency attempts to investigate for signs of a nuclear cover-up "give rise to concerns about possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program."

Spanish IAEA chief delegate Jose Luis Rosello, writing on behalf of the European Union, strongly criticized Tehran for concerns that its nuclear program may be a front for clandestine efforts to make atomic warheads.

Beyond making the same point, U.S. chief delegate Glyn Davies said the IAEA is justified in being concerned "about the possible construction in secret of other new nuclear facilities in Iran."

Iranian chief delegate Ali Asghar Soltanieh, in turn, accused the West of a politically motived campaign against his country and said Amano was biased.

The United States, Britain and France support new sanctions, and Russia, which is normally opposed, appears to be moving closer to that view. That leaves only permanent Security Council member China, which depends on Iran for much of its energy needs, opposed to new sanctions.

Fast facts

Brazil says no

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva rebuffed a U.S. appeal for new sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, vowing not to "bow down" to international pressure. Silva opposes sanctions, and his country sits on the Security Council, which will be asked to approve its toughest-ever penalties on Iran this year.

E.U., U.S. share U.N. concerns about Iran 03/03/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 3, 2010 11:17pm]
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