Washington: US President Barack Obama is
pressing UN atomic inspectors to release classified data on
Iran that it was experimenting and designing nuclear weapons
technology as Washington sought to expand financial sanctions
"The President`s push is part of a larger American
effort to further isolate and increase pressure on Iran after
accusing it of a plot to assassinate Saudi Arabia`s ambassador
to the United States," The New York Times quoted unnamed
sources as saying.
If the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the
United Nations` watchdog group agrees to publicise the
evidence, including new data from recent months, it would
almost certainly revive a debate that has been dormant during
the Arab Spring about how aggressively the United States and
its allies, including Israel, should move to halt Iran`s
suspected weapons programme, it said.
Over the longer term, several senior Obama
administration officials said, they are mulling a ban on
financial transactions with Iran`s central bank a move that
has been opposed by China and other Asian nations.
Also being considered is an expansion of the ban on the
purchase of petroleum products sold by companies controlled by
the country`s elite military force, the Islamic Revolutionary
All of the proposed sanctions carry with them
considerable political and economic risks. Officials who have
spoken with the director general of IAEA Yukiya Amano say he
is concerned that his inspectors could be ejected from Iran.
Obama had vowed last week to make sure Iran would face
the "toughest sanctions" for what he said was its role in the
plot to hire a Mexican drug cartel to kill the Saudi envoy.
The decision to press the IAEA was brewing even before
the plot against the Saudi ambassador was discovered, but that
discovery prompted the White House to pursue a full-court,
public press of the agency to release the sensitive
intelligence, the report said.
Officials familiar with the evidence say it creates
extraordinarily uncomfortable questions for the Iranians to
answer, but does not definitively point to the construction of
Tommy Vietor, the spokesman for the National Security
Council, said yesterday that "the United States believes that
a comprehensive assessment would be invaluable for the
international community in its consideration of Iran`s nuclear
programme and what to do about it."
Iran has declared that all of the documents suggesting
work on how to create a weapon that could fit atop an Iranian
missile are "fabrications" intended to justify an attack.