The IAEA is an autonomous international organization with the aim to “promote the peaceful use of nuclear energy and to inhibit its use for military purposes.” (1)
The organization has long expressed concern about Iran’s nuclear activities and has monitored Iran’s nuclear program – issuing a series of regular reports on the matter.
While previous reports have been less thorough, the IAEA’s latest report highlights a meticulous case that is drawn from both the organization’s own evidence, as well as evidence produced by ten member states. That evidence suggests, according to the BBC, that Iran has carried out activities “relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”
Evidence Mounting Against Iran
During an inspection visit to Tehran in August, the IAEA complained that officials had not cooperated fully with its inspectors, and that Iran had displayed "greater transparency" during previous visits when compared to the most recent.
In addition to that unwelcome experience, additional evidence from member states proves that there has been testing of nuclear explosives, experiments with detonating a nuclear weapon, and a claim that Iran has used computer modelling on the behavior nuclear devices.
All of this evidence together leaves the IAEA with little option except to voice its concern that Iran is diligently working on obtaining a new nuclear weapon.
Iran has dismissed the claims made by the IAEA as fictitious.
In 2010, President Ahmadinejad told the UN that nuclear weapons were "a fire against humanity," a sentiment the Iranian president reiterated again recently when, following the IAEA report, he addressed the US by saying:
"We do not need an atomic bomb. The Iranian nation is wise. It won’t build two atomic bombs while you have 20,000 warheads." (2)
While the report did not state whether or not Iran had mastered the nuclear process, nor how long it would take for Iran to create a bomb, there is growing concern that an impending nuclear program in Iran could threaten global peace.
International Concern Mounting
Having nuclear weapons in the hands of someone as erratic as President Ahmadinejad weighs heavy on the minds of decision-makers in countries such as Saudi Arabia and Israel, and throughout the whole of the international community.
If Iran did become the world’s tenth known nuclear power, both international experts and world leaders estimate that the danger of nuclear war would grow exponentially, whether caused by the Iranian bomb itself, or from a neighboring nation feeling compelled to proactively bomb Iran.
It is the latter sentiment that seems to be occupying the thoughts of Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanjahu, who is frequently stressing the potential danger of an attack from Iran, and therefore the possibility of an attack by Israel.
While few could deny that a nuclear Iran is a significant threat, some believe that there may still be time to avoid a nuclear Iran.
The responsibility for evading this potential danger lies primarily in the hands of the IAEA. In order to meet that responsibility, the board of Governors of the IAEA has adopted a resolution on the implementation of safeguards and relevant provisions of the UN Security Council resolutions on Iran.
Is the U.S. Doing Enough?
The resolutions stress the need for Iran and the IAEA to "intensify their dialogue" in order to tackle the unresolved issues surrounding the Iranian nuclear program.
Some observers have stated that Washington is taking a "back seat" in its involvement in Iran’s nuclear agenda, and that there needs to be a greater commitment by the US government if the world is to thwart the impending danger of Iran’s nuclear weapons.
CNN’s Patrick M. Cronin, in a report titled, "How Iran bomb could threaten peace," wrote:
"Washington should double down on financial measures, support for political opponents, arms for allies and convert actions... If Iran succeeds in brandishing nuclear arms, all Americans, and not just one political party, will feel the repercussions of a post-American era in which no outside power can act as a security guarantor." (3)
After the decade-long struggle to dig through the secrecy surrounding Iran's nuclear program, investigators have finally pierced through the cover-up with a trove of new, credible evidence. Iran continues to deny such evidence, dismissing the claims as "fictitious".
One thing does remain less ambiguous – that another major nuclear power in one of the world’s most volatile regions would be unthinkable.