Western allies running out of options to stop Iran nuke program

(By Deutsche Welle) Although newly released evidence suggests Iran may be researching a nuclear weapon, Western allies have few policy options to stop the program during a period of economic crisis and war weariness.

The United Nation’s atomic watchdog has accused Iran of making designs for a nuclear weapon in clear violation of international conventions, provoking renewed calls for tighter economic sanctions on the Islamic Republic and stirring up rumors of Israeli plans to launch a military strike against one of the largest and most populous nations in the Middle East.

In its most unequivocal judgment to date on Iran’s nuclear program, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported on Wednesday that it has obtained evidence indicating Tehran has tried to source uranium destined for use in the warhead of a missile re-entry vehicle, the Shahab 3. The Agency also indicated that Iran has developed detonators and built a facility at the Parchin military complex consistent with nuclear-related explosives testing.

Although Iran reportedly issued a halt on weapons-related research in 2003 after the US invasion of Iraq, the IAEA indicated that some aspects of the research continued afterward and may be on-going. This does not mean, however, that Tehran has made a definitive political decision to actually construct an atomic bomb. Iran claims that its nuclear program is only for civilian purposes.

“The whole point of this report was to show Iran’s intentions,” Dina Esfandiary, with the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, told Deutsche Welle. “It’s hard now for somebody to claim that Iran’s weapons program is solely for civilian purposes, because there’s no point in weaponizing if it’s solely for civilian purposes.”

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