February 27th, 2012
11:55 AM ET

Iran's 'stonewalling' raises nuclear concerns as gas prices continue to rise

Gas prices rose for the 20th straight day.

Analysts attribute the surge at the pump to rising oil prices, stemming from fears of shortages resulting from tensions in the Middle East over Iran's nuclear program.

An 11-page document from the International Atomic Energy Agency released Friday reveals the IAEA has doubts about what the Iranian government is telling the world about its nuclear efforts.

We read the study, and while it does not say Iran is making a bomb, it does say that it's rapidly expanding its nuclear activity, tripling its uranium enrichment since late last year.

We consulted a number of experts, including nuclear scientists and former UN weapons inspectors, and they highlighted a few troubling details in the report.

First, Tehran continues to block inspectors from examining a key nuclear facility, one that the watchdog group has been trying to access for a long time.

Second, the report says 19.8 kilograms of natural uranium metal is currently missing.

Iran argues its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, like cancer treatment, but National Security Council spokesperson Tommy Veetor told us:

"When combined with its continued stonewalling of international inspectors, Iran's actions demonstrate why Iran has failed to convince the international community that its nuclear program is peaceful."

That seems to contradict recent remarks from top U.S. officials.

Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said:
"The Iranian regime has not decided that they will embark on the effort to weaponize their nuclear capability."

To get the Iranian side of the story, we spoke to Ali Asghar Soltanieh, a nuclear scientist and Iran's permanent representative to the IAEA.

When we asked about the ramped up production of enriched uranium, he said:

"I'm proud to say that we will continue without any interruption. We will never, ever suspend our enrichment activities.… Millions of patients in Iran desperately need [nuclear energy], therefore the Iranian government is obliged to fulfill the demand and expectation of its nation. [The IAEA report], I am proud to say, is a clean bill of health of exclusively peaceful nature of nuclear activities in Iran."

Wesley Clark, a retired general and former NATO commander, also came OutFront and he had a different take on the issue.

Said Gen. Clark:

"Well I think this is a standard operating procedure of governments who want to conceal these activities. Put out someone who looks like a credible spokesman, have him deny everything. But where's the missing uranium, why aren't the inspectors permitted in there? Why aren't inspectors allowed there 24 hours a day?

"If Iran were worried about it as it should be, about sanctions and other options that are still on the table and they weren't after a nuclear weapons program, surely they could make a stronger effort to convince the world of their innocence. They haven't made that effort. This is part of a diplomatic stall."

Filed under: National Security
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. edog355

    Since when does Iran have a responsibility to show anyone anything? "Stonewalling"? That implies they should allow themselves to be dictated to by others.

    They should continue to make as many bombs as they can in order to protect themselves from blood-thirsty countries like Israel and the US.

    March 1, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Reply
  2. The Gummamend

    Raising gas prices? Bring it on, I've got plenty of cash to spare.

    March 1, 2012 at 2:17 pm | Reply
  3. misterjack

    How can we have shortages of gasoline and other refinery products? If you check it out, you will discover that the United States is exporting huge volumes of refinery products because in the US the demand for fuel is down and refineries are producing more than they can sell.

    An anyway, we should just butt out of the Iran situation and let nature take its course.

    February 29, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Reply
  4. pee

    why should a country which wants to wipe out another country from this planet be allowed to engage in nuclear program.Is like someone has told you he will come to your house and beat you up at a certain time and as the time was due,you still left your door widely open and he came in and beat you up. In this situation,it was the victim who gave his enemy the chance to enter his house in the first place.For he could have locked his door but he didn`t. Likewise,i think Iran who has made it clear that it will wipe off another country from this planet should never be giving the chance to become nuclear.

    February 27, 2012 at 10:35 pm | Reply
  5. Bill

    After all these years someone writes they are stalling. lol Everyone in the world knows that, Why is this news.?

    February 27, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Reply
  6. JR

    When they say peace and security thats when destruction will come to the world.

    February 27, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Reply
  7. justmeanddog

    Given that Iran is telling the inspectors to “take a hike”, and there is simply no, non-military, way to force them to do otherwise, unless you want hang around for the next 150 years waiting for sanctions to take effect that is, then I would say everyone should start preparing for what will happen when the missiles begin falling on Iran and Israel and their immediate neighbors. Because make no mistake when things start happening it will get real ugly, real fast. Iran’s leaders have openly called for the destruction of Israel and I for one don’t see the Israelis walking like sheep to their destruction as happened when the Nazis tried to exterminate the Jews. If the Iranian people are willing to let those crazy old Religious Fanatics, they call their leaders; drag them to their destruction then I guess that is their right. I suppose that authentic Persian Rugs will go up in price in the future since their wont be anymore made.

    February 27, 2012 at 9:18 pm | Reply
  8. Fr33th1nk3r

    The sad part is that all the rising gas prices here in the U.S. have little or nothing to do with Iran– the U.S. gets less than 3% of its oil imports from Iran. But this crisis gives BP, Exxon-Mobile, Chevron, etc. an excuse to gouge prices and claim "decreased supply"....

    February 27, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Reply
  9. Fr33th1nk3r

    This is pretty simple: if iran had nothing to hide in that underground nuclear facility that everybody is talking about, they would have let inspectors in there months ago, rather than deal with the sanctions that have been placed on them and have caused their economy to tank, and their currency to lose 60% of its value over the last month.
    We need to take preemptive action and erase that facility.

    February 27, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Reply
  10. turtle**!

    the increase in the price of gas drums the impending beat of war.

    February 27, 2012 at 9:00 pm | Reply
  11. bluemax77

    Think I’ve seen this movie somehow...!!

    February 27, 2012 at 8:59 pm | Reply
  12. David M

    Iran stalling?? I don't believe it. This is only some kind of vast right wing conspiracy. I am sure Iran is above board on everything nuclear related. And Santa Clause is making another round this weekend, too.

    February 27, 2012 at 8:44 pm | Reply
  13. JJ

    No evidence. Period. Back under your rocks, nimrods. Stop pandering to jews.

    February 27, 2012 at 7:20 pm | Reply
    • US economists

      MMMMM – surprise!!!! They ask why the prices are rising...... Idiots!!! You shoot yourself in the foot. We don't buy Iran's oil – that will get them!!!! We will die from hunger but we will get em!!!! Lets stop imports from China for Syria. That will get them too!!!!!! We can do it – we will die but we can do that

      February 27, 2012 at 8:03 pm | Reply
    • Fr33th1nk3r

      The evidence is in their actions, nimrod. If they had nothing to hide– do you think they would let their currency lose 60% of its value over the last month to protect a secret weapons facility that does not exist?

      If you buy that one, we need to get together sometime to play some poker....

      February 27, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Reply
  14. Jon

    So, basically, they're stalling. The same way they've done for years. Quel surpris.

    February 27, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Reply
  15. M1sf1ts

    That sound you hear? Israeli jets warming on the tarmac.

    February 27, 2012 at 6:26 pm | Reply
    • ashtond

      HA! had a chuckle at that one. Should be an interesting year in Iran

      February 27, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Reply
  16. John K

    Iran of course is stonewalling, DA!!! Can't you figure out the reason why? If you can't then you must be really dumb! Here is what's very important to be able to clearly see and tactfully do, have a move as to after Iran develops the bomb and realize they are also working very hard on a delivery system for that bomb. If you can't see this then you have NO BUSINESS being a leader, a politician or a consultant in our foreign matters. The way to go about this is like playing chess, what is our next move, no, its not military action its something else. No, I am not going to tell you that is your job to do, so DO IT! Quite fiddling around.

    February 27, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Reply
    • bob

      iran was given a small nuclear reactor by the united states under the atoms for peace initiative in 1968. this is the reactor that they recently refueled with home grown fuel. back in those days such small reactors were run off of weapons grade uranium. no exaggeration. we gave iran 2 cores for this reactor. given typical burnup rates they probably have something like 8kgs of weapons grade uranium left int he spent fuel. uranium that would be VERY easy to recover as it's already enriched. All they would need to do is chemcially isolate the uranium from fission products. something that we know iran knows how to do. They have been in posession of the key material needed for a bomb for nearly half a century now. yet no bomb. what exactly do you think they are waiting for? do you really think they are stonewalling for 44 years?

      February 27, 2012 at 8:50 pm | Reply

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