Dimitry Medvedev has told world leaders to “exhale” and “relax” following the release of a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency which concluded that it did not know whether all nuclear activity in Iran was for peaceful purposes.
The leader of the Russian Federation underscored the need to avoid conflict in the region, saying that threats could destabilise the Middle East:
“…Exhale, relax and continue the constructive discussion of all matters on the Middle Eastern agenda, Iran’s nuclear program, as well as all other issues, but not in this situation threaten the use of any strike force. This can result in a major war, and for the Middle East it would be a disaster, look at the map, look how many countries are concentrated there and what the consequences of use of force in the region would be.”
The USA and France might not be so accommodating. On 3rd November 2011, at a convention centre in Cannes, the President of the United States made a statement thanking the French President for his hospitality and noting a shared concern over a nuclear threat in Iran.
Barack Obama explained the nature of his meeting with Nicolas Sarkozy thus:
“We had the opportunity to also talk about a range of security issues. One in particular that I want to mention is the continuing threat posed by Iran’s nuclear program. The IAEA is scheduled to release a report on Iran’s nuclear program next week and President Sarkozy and I agreed on the need to maintain the unprecedented international pressure on Iran to meet its obligations.”
The IAEA does have a working relationship with Iran, conducting safeguard activities at some of the country’s nuclear facilities. In its report, the agency has concluded that the Natanz facility has been operated as declared by Iran and no enriched uranium was found at Fordow.
However, the IAEA has been unable to access some facilities referred to by Dr Fereydoun Abbasi, Vice President of Iran and Head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. The IAEA has also complained of a lack of access to heavy water projects already banned by the UN Security Council. The agency has insisted that its critical report is based on credible evidence:
“The information comes from a wide variety of independent sources, including from a number of Member States, from the Agency’s own efforts and from information provided by Iran itself. It is consistent in terms of technical content, individuals and organizations involved, and time frames.”
“Over a thousand pages” of evidence has been “carefully and critically” assessed by the agency meaning that “the Agency is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities”. Some details of the allegations against Iran have been released including references to a covert supply network reaching into Libya, front companies providing assistance to the government and sketches for a nuclear device test. However, the original documentation and sources were not disclosed.