- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 9, 2004

According to a report issued last week by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Tehran continues to respond to inspections of its nuclear facilities with stonewalling and defiance. With the next IAEA board meeting scheduled for Monday in Vienna, the critical question now is whether three EU nations — Britain, France and Germany, also known as the “EU 3” — are prepared to join the United States in stepping up pressure against the Iranian regime.

Over the past seven months, three IAEA reports have documented Iran’s deceptions. In November, the IAEA issued a 30-page report showing that Tehran has been deceiving the international community about its intentions for almost 20 years. In February, the IAEA criticized Iran for promising to provide details about its nuclear programs, but failing to do so.

The latest IAEA report, issued last week, suggests that two months after Iran pledged to suspend its nuclear program, it continues to produce items that can be used to build nuclear weapons. The IAEA suggests that Iran has provided false information about its nuclear program; that it takes repeated requests to pry loose information; and that the information it has provided is not particularly useful. One of the most troubling points deals with Iran’s promise on April 9 to suspend production of centrifuge parts. While Iran suspended such activities at three state-run facilities, centrifuge work continued at three private companies. Iran’s behavior “fits a long-term pattern of denial and deception that can only be designed to mask Iran’s military nuclear program,” said Kenneth Brill, U.S. ambassador to the IAEA. “Inconsistent stories and unanswered questions continue to be the hallmark of Iranian cooperation with the agency.”

In the days leading up to next week’s IAEA meeting, Tehran has sounded unrepentant. The head of Iran’s paramilitary Revolutionary Guards warns that the United States is pursuing a policy of “bullying” Muslim nations that “will stir up the hatred of more than 1 billion Muslims” and bring divine wrath upon America.

At issue now is whether Britain, France and Germany, which have been repeatedly embarrassed by Iran’s broken promises over the past year, are prepared to take a more assertive stance. Indications are that the EU 3 will oppose any effort by Washington to get the IAEA to go on record declaring Iran in violation of its commitment not to build nuclear weapons. At some point, the European nations will be forced to choose between their commercial interests in engaging the current Iranian regime and the need to give real credibility to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as a safeguard against the development of atomic weapons by rogue states. The hour is growing late.

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