New Report Outlines Iran’s Nuclear Progress as Tehran Counterattacks with Misaligned Summit

COMMENTARY Terrorism

New Report Outlines Iran’s Nuclear Progress as Tehran Counterattacks with Misaligned Summit

Aug 31st, 2012 2 min read
COMMENTARY BY
James Phillips

Senior Research Fellow, The Heritage Foundation

James Phillips is a senior research fellow for Middle Eastern affairs at The Heritage Foundation.

The latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has documented Iran’s continued progress towards attaining a nuclear weapons capacity. Iran more than doubled the number of centrifuges—from 1,064 in May to 2,140—installed in the Fordo uranium enrichment facility, which is buried deep under a mountain and hardened against a possible attack. Tehran claims to be enriching uranium to 20 percent for its nuclear research reactor, but inspectors have found uranium enriched as high as 27 percent, much closer to weapons-grade levels.

The latest IAEA quarterly report also charged that Tehran had “significantly hampered” the agency’s ability to inspect the Parchin military site where Iran is suspected of conducting tests on nuclear warhead designs. The IAEA has been much more energetic in pressing Iran for information on its nuclear weapons-related activities since Yukiya Amano replaced Mohamed ElBaradei as director general in 2009.

Not surprisingly, Iran has launched a propaganda blitz against the U.N. agency, including the kneejerk anti-western “nonaligned summit” that the radical Islamist regime hosted in Tehran. Iran sought greater international support for its efforts to dilute the power and effectiveness of the IAEA by expanding its decision-making board to include countries that would enable Iran to escape the consequences of its noncompliance with its nuclear nonproliferation obligations.

Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei also sermonized that the 120-strong so-called “nonaligned” nations have a greater right to intervene to address the bloodletting in Syria than NATO or the United States.

This failed effort to paper over deep splits on Syria came the day after Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi embarrassed his Iranian hosts by calling for greater international support for the overthrow of the “oppressive” Assad regime in Syria.

While Iran’s ayatollahs strain to re-align the “nonaligned” movement to support their nuclear efforts and their beleaguered Syrian ally, Egypt’s Morsi has reasserted his country’s claim to leadership on Middle Eastern issues and seeks to bring his Muslim Brotherhood cronies to power in Syria. Although the two Islamist regimes may cooperate on some anti-Western issues, they remain firmly entrenched on opposing sides of many Middle Eastern and Islamic issues.

This piece originally appeared in The Daily Signal