The new International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report, which states that sufficient evidence exists to assert that Tehran has a plan to develop a nuclear weapons capacity, has aroused concerns throughout the world. In Europe in particular, the need is felt to increase pressure on Iran, including through additional sanctions. But no decisions to this effect can be taken before the meeting of the IAEA board of governors on 17 November (2011).
Until that date, in the European Union the immediate reactions to the report have been accompanied by a series of bilateral discussions and high-level consultations. These include the talks that will be taking place at the Foreign Ministers’ Council in Brussels on Monday 14 November. In expressing the “grave concerns” aroused by the picture emerging from the IAEA report, Minister Frattini hopes that “all the international actors will take a firm stance to prevent the dangerous destabilisation effects that an Iran equipped with atomic weapons would produce”. The Minister will be speaking to the EU’s High Representative, Catherine Ashton, at the Foreign Ministry in Rome on Friday 11 November.
The French Foreign Minister, Alain Juppé, has asked for “a meeting of the UN Security Council” and is calling for rigorous sanctions against Tehran. Germany, too, has said it would like to see the sanctions stepped up. The British Foreign Minister, William Hague, aired the possibility of “additional measures” against the Iranian financial and oil and gas sectors, along with measures to identify other groups or individuals involved in the country’s nuclear programme.
In its report, the IAEA says it possesses information indicating that Iran has engaged in significant activity to develop nuclear explosive devices. The Agency harbours serious concerns as to the possible military dimensions of the Iranian nuclear programme. After carefully and critically evaluating the detailed information at its disposal, the IAEA writes that it believes this information to be, on the whole, credible.
The IAEA also writes that it holds information supplied by a member state indicating that Tehran may have planned and indeed commenced preparatory experiments that would be useful if it should decide to conduct a nuclear weapons test. In the 12-page annex dedicated to Iran in the IAEA report, the Agency says it has strong evidence that Tehran has been helped in its nuclear activity by a foreign expert. It suggests that this expert not only knew about the technologies in question but has spent most of their career working in their own country’s nuclear weapons programme.