Military tensions rise in Iran nuclear controversy as IAEA mission fails

By Brien Southward

Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency reported Tuesday that their mission to inspect Iran's nuclear program had failed. They say Tehran blocked their access to what inspectors thought could be a testing area and refused to agree on a process for resolving questions about the "possible military dimensions" of its nuclear research program. It was the second such recent mission to be deemed a failure.

The purported testing area is a military site at Parchin, which inspectors say exhibits signs of being a facility that could be used to produce weapons-grade uranium, but Iran denied them access on the grounds that it is a military base and therefore off-limits. Iran has previously said that inspectors can visit any nuclear-related facility, but they have consistently denied to let them have access to the Parchin facility. This has led leaders in Israel and the United States to mention once again the possibility of an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Iran has also said that it will take preemptive military action if necessary to protect its national interests. One of the leaders of Iran's armed forces, General Mohammad Hejazi, said that Iran "will no more wait to see enemy action against us. Given this strategy, we will make use of all our means to protect our national interests and hit a retaliatory blow at them whenever we feel that enemies want to endanger our national interests."

Iran has been sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council before for blocking inspections and refusing to answer questions, and because they have refused to stop enriching uranium, even though the Security Council has called for them to temporarily stop. Several Iranian nuclear scientists have also been assassinated in recent years, and Iran is suspected of initiating retaliation attacks on Israeli diplomats.

Although there are reports that the embargo has already adversely affected Iran's economy, Iran has not been afraid to apply economic pressure of its own. In the face of new rounds of sanctions and an international embargo on its oil exports, Iran has been steadfast in its demands. They have even preemptively cut off oil sales to some of the nations who joined the embargo, which is officially set to begin in July, and they have threatened to cut off exports early to other nations as well.

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