House panel urges Obama to expand sanctions on Iran

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Iranian leaders have held to their claim in the past year that their program is peaceful, but Wednesday’s legislative development in Washington showed how firmly U.S. lawmakers on both sides of the aisle embrace a view shared by allies in the Europe and the Middle East — particularly Israel — that Iran is quickly and secretly refining enough nuclear material to soon develop a nuclear warhead.

The view was also on full display Wednesday in the Senate with a 99-0 vote to pass a resolution declaring solidarity with Jerusalem.

The resolution noted that “in August 2012, Supreme Leader Khamenei said of Israel, ‘This bogus and fake Zionist outgrowth will disappear off the landscape of geography.’”

The resolution also said that if Israel is compelled to take military action against Iran in self-defense, the U.S. “should stand with Israel and provide diplomatic, military, and economic support to the Government of Israel in its defense of its territory, people, and existence.”

Tehran’s nuclear advance

The IAEA’s latest findings on Iran were part of a quarterly report released to the agency’s board of governors Wednesday.

State Department deputy spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters that the agency has issued similar reports citing “concerns over Iran’s nuclear program going back to June 2003.”

“We’re at the 10-year mark here,” he said, “and in the past 10 years, Iran has brazenly ignored multiple board of governors resolutions while advancing its enrichment program in blatant violation of its international obligations.”

The American focus on Iranian nuclear activities so far has centered largely on uranium enrichment plants at Natanz, roughly 200 miles south of Tehran, and Fordo, about 90 miles southwest of the Iranian capital.

Wednesday’s IAEA report claimed that Iran has installed some 700 IR-2m centrifuges and empty centrifuge casings, used to enrich uranium at Natanz, compared with 180 in February.

The report also cited construction activity at a facility near Arak, roughly 150 miles southwest of Tehran.

According to Reuters news agency, analysts say a research reactor being built at the facility could be designed to yield plutonium for nuclear arms if spent fuel from the reactor is reprocessed — something Iran has said it has no intention of doing.

The IAEA report found that major components for the reactor, including control room equipment, have not been put into place at the facility.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

About the Author
Guy Taylor

Guy Taylor

Guy Taylor is the National Security Team Leader at The Washington Times, overseeing the paper’s State Department, Pentagon and intelligence community coverage. He’s also a frequent guest on The McLaughlin Group and C-SPAN.

His series on political, economic and security developments in Mexico won a 2012 Virginia Press Association award.

Prior to rejoining The Times in 2011, his work was ...

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