A Blog Written By Roozbeh Mirebrahimi
from the August 31, 2007 edition
Istanbul, Turkey – American and Iranian leaders are boosting their belligerent rhetoric, even as the UN’s nuclear watchdog reported Thursday that Iran’s nuclear program is moving slower than expected and below capacity.
In results likely to blunt US efforts to further sanction Iran, the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Iran’s expanding efforts still defy Security Council resolutions, but that cooperation in clearing up continued suspicions marked “a significant step forward.”
In the war of words that escalated this week, President George Bush charged on Tuesday that Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology put the Mideast “under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust.”
Pressures are mounting on all sides. Washington awaits a key US progress report on Iraq, where American accusations of Iranian support for anti-US militias has sharpened. And the IAEA this week unveiled a deal with Iran to “resolve” all outstanding questions by year’s end, a deal that analysts say risks ending investigations too early.
“Iran is now facing a litmus test to provide answers in a timely manner to our questions,” the IAEA deputy head Olli Heinonen said in Vienna. “If the answers [from Iran] are not satisfactory, we are making new questions until we are satisfied with the answers.”
The top US commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus and US Ambassador Ryan Crocker are to give assessments on the effect of a months-long surge in Baghdad the second week of September that will shape future US deployments and withdrawal plans for Iraq.