The United Nations nuclear inspectorate said it’s uncertain Iran has declared the full extent of its atomic work as Israel’s defense chief warned the Persian Gulf nation’s program may spill over in the region.
“We are not very sure that Iran has declared everything,” International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Yukiya Amano said in Davos, Switzerland. An Iranian nuclear weapon would mean “the end of any anti-proliferation regime” in the Middle East, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said after Amano’s remarks.
IAEA nuclear inspectors leave Vienna tomorrow for three-days of talks with Iranian authorities. While the agency confirmed Iran hasn’t used its declared uranium stockpile to make weapons, inspectors said they have credible intelligence showing the country studied how to make a nuclear bomb. Iran, under four sets of UN sanctions, says it only wants atomic power and that the intelligence was fabricated.
European Union foreign ministers agreed on Jan. 23 to ban oil imports from Iran and to freeze Iranian central bank assets. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the embargo was aimed at pressing the Iranian government to resume negotiations over its nuclear program.
Israel will assess the effects of the European embargo, which starts on July 1, “in the next months,” Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Jan. 24 in Vienna. Israel has said it would use force to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
“Iran is determined to move forward toward a nuclear-military program,” Barak told a panel in Davos today. “They are ready to fight and deceive the whole world to turn into a nuclear-military power.”
Saudi Arabia and Turkey would also pursue atomic weapons if Iran is allowed to become a nuclear-military power, Barak said. Israel probably has about 80 nuclear warheads, according to the Federation of American Scientists, citing the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.
Iranian officials have said they would block the Strait of Hormuz, a transit route for a fifth of globally traded oil, if military action were taken against their country.
Crude for March delivery today was up 21 cents at $99.91 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange at 10:16 a.m. Vienna time. The contract settled at $99.70 yesterday, the highest closing price since Jan. 19. Prices are up 17 percent in the past 12 months.
Iran, which hid its nuclear work for more than a decade before IAEA inspections began in 2003, is obligated under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to declare its enriched-uranium stockpile.
“We have requested Iran to engage with us to clarify the decisions,” Amano said. “Iran has a case to answer.”
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said yesterday his country is willing to revive talks on its nuclear program and accused Western countries of dodging discussions, the state-run Fars news agency reported.