Sanctions against Iran not curbing nuclear activity, says watchdog

Wed, Nov 21, 2012, 00:00

Iran is enriching uranium at a constant pace and international sanctions aimed at making Tehran suspend the activity are having no visible impact, the UN nuclear watchdog chief said in unusually blunt remarks yesterday.

The point made by Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, reinforced the view of many analysts that increased western economic pressure on Iran has failed to make it change its course.

Today in Brussels, senior officials from six world powers are due to weigh up strategy towards Iran amid signs of a renewed push to resolve the dispute diplomatically after US president Barack Obama’s re-election. World powers, which first ushered in UN sanctions on Iran back in 2006, are concerned Israel may try to bomb Iranian nuclear sites without a peaceful resolution to the row soon.

The US and its western allies have sharply ratcheted up punitive steps on Iran this year to target its vital oil exports, hoping this will convince the country to finally back down in a stand-off that has raised fears of war.

But asked whether sanctions had produced any deterrent effect, Mr Amano told reporters in Paris: “We are verifying the activities at the nuclear sites in Iran and we do not see any effect. They are, for example, producing enriched uranium up to 5 per cent and 20 per cent with a quite constant pace.”

The IAEA, tasked with preventing the spread of nuclear weapons in the world, said in its latest quarterly report on Iran that it had finished installing enrichment centrifuges at its Fordow underground plant. It is a “very troubling report”, a senior western official in Vienna, where the IAEA is based, said. Iran maintains its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes. – (Reuters)