Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency held another round of talks on November 8, 2007 in Vienna to resolve questions regarding the country’s nuclear program. The meeting took place just before the IAEA Director General Mohammed ElBaradei is set to deliver a report on November 22 to the IAEA Board of Governors on the status of progress to setting outstanding questions on Iran’s nuclear program. The content of the report is a key factor in the decision to move forward with a third round of sanctions in the United Nations Security Council, as stipulated in a September 28, 2007 Statement from P5+2 (Britain, China, France, Russia and the U.S. plus Germany in consultation with the High Commissioner of the European Union) and reaffirmed during a meeting of those countries in Britain last week.
Following the last round of talks between the IAEA and Iran last week, Iran said it had provided all information the IAEA needed to remove ambiguities about its development of centrifuge machines. However, the IAEA has withheld comment on the progress of the action plan agreed to with Iran in August to resolve outstanding questions one by one.
Meanwhile, the United States continues to press for further sanctions on Iran within the UN Security Council, but reaffirmed with the European Union, Russia and China that it is offering negotiations conditioned on Iran's suspension of enrichment and reprocessing activities. President Bush recently said that
On November 7, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Iran's nuclear program was irreversible and insisted that his country had 3,000 centrifuges in its underground Natanz facility. Although he has made this claim before, he seemed to be suggesting the machines were in full operation. While diplomats and analysts agree that Iran now appears to have nearly 3,000 centrifuges installed, they see no evidence that they are being run together or all being fed with uranium for enrichment.
However, the Bush administration continues to hype the threat of the nuclear program. On October 17, President Bush stated in a press conference that he “told people that if you’re interested in avoiding World War III, it seems like you ought to be interested in preventing them from having the knowledge necessary to make a nuclear weapon.” President Bush also defended his comments in a November 7 television interview. In a speech at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy on October 21, Vice President Dick Cheney stated, “The Iranian regime needs to know that if it stays on its present course, the international community is prepared to impose serious consequences. The United States joins other nations in sending a clear message: We will not allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.”
Meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Yossi Baidatz, chief analyst for Israel's military intelligence, told the Knesset (Israeli Parliament) Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on November 6 that if Iran's nuclear program goes unchecked, it could produce warheads by the end of 2009 or the beginning of 2010. On November 8, 2007 Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz called for International Atomic Energy Agency Director Mohamed ElBaradei to be removed as head of the agency, saying he had turned a blind eye to Iran's nuclear ambitions. ElBaradei raised the ire of many Israeli officials after telling France's Le Monde newspaper that Iran would need "between three and eight years" to develop a nuclear bomb and that there is no immediate threat. ElBaradei said, “I want to get people away from the idea that Iran represents a clear and present danger and that we're now facing the decision whether to bombard Iran or let them have the bomb. We're not in that situation at all.”