Friday, June 10, 2011

Six powers pressuring Iran over nuclear fears

Russia and China joined the Western powers Thursday to tell Iran that its "continued failure" to comply with UN resolutions "growing concern" about possible nuclear dimensions of its nuclear program. United States, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China made the statement a day after Iran say it would triple its production of high-grade uranium and move to an underground bunker to protect against possible U.S.

air strikes and Israel . Russia and China have been less willing in the past to try to isolate Iran over its enrichment of uranium, which Tehran maintains it is only to generate electricity. Western nations suspect Iran wants to enrich the uranium to a higher level to produce nuclear weapons if desired.

"We urge Iran to cooperate fully with the agency," said the joint statement by the six powers during a closed session of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA for its acronym in English) in Vienna. "Outstanding issues must be resolved to exclude the existence of possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program," the statement added.

The text did not mention Iran's plan to expand enrichment. Washington's envoy said privately that the plan to accelerate Iran's enrichment of uranium with an advanced model of centrifuge in a bunker in the mountains illustrated a challenge, "brazen" and growing international demand to halt such activities.

Iran's refusal to halt enrichment has led to four rounds of UN sanctions to a major oil producer, as well as tighter restrictions the United States and the European Union. World powers also offered trade incentives to Tehran to abandon enrichment, but President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tuesday that no encouragement could persuade Iran to stop.

The U.S. president, Barack Obama, said he probably would be more sanctions. The representative of Iran at the IAEA said in a tense board meeting of the UN watchdog, pledging to resist Western pressure. Iranian Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh launched a verbal attack on the director general of the IAEA, Yukiya Amano, whom he accused of bias.

The Japanese director of the IAEA has taken a more forceful attitude toward Iran than his predecessor Mohamed ElBaradei, said in his first report earlier this year that he feared that he was working to develop nuclear missiles.

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