Iran pressed to meet demands of nuclear body

Posted in Iran | 19-Jun-04 | Author: Ian Traynor| Source: Guardian

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi
The international community continued to press Iran to disclose full details about its nuclear programmes yesterday when the International Atomic Energy Agency condemned its delaying tactics and deplored its unsatisfactory responses to 15 months of inquiry.

Despite an angry warning by President Mohammad Khatami this week that Tehran may resume enriching uranium - the key to building a nuclear bomb - the IAEA board meeting in Vienna adopted, after days of argument, a resolution censuring Iran.

Drafted by Britain, Germany, and France and backed by the 35 states on the board, it echoes criticism by the IAEA chief, Mohamed ElBaradei, who this week expressed impatience that despite a year of inspections he was still not in a position to declare whether Iran's nuclear programme was civil or military.

Meanwhile satellite pictures of a site in Tehran suggested that an attempt was being made to disguise with a covering of soil a site next to a military installation, where buildings and equipment were being removed.

The IAEA inspectors have been seeking information about the site, which they suspect may be involved in uranium enrichment, but which has not been declared to the IAEA.

The information seems to have come from Iranian exiles in Washington who have previously supplied accurate information about Iranian projects.

IAEA officials suspect that information may have been leaked by White House hardliners to increase the pressure on Iran in a way that the inspectors feel may be counter-productive.

Yesterday's formal censure entails neither punitive action nor a deadline for Iranian responses to the international concern.

It says that despite promises of full cooperation Tehran's responses have not been as "full, timely, and proactive" as hoped for.

It says the nuclear conundrum must be resolved "within months" and that there are several unanswered questions almost two years after Ithe covert nuclear programme was discovered.

"There's not much happening that puts people's minds at rest," a western diplomat said.

"The basic judgment still being made is that a strategic decision has been taken by Iran to have a nuclear breakout capacity."

That means that it will legally pursue nuclear technology and power to the point at which it can abandon its international treaty commitments and quickly develop the bomb.

Tehran insists that its aims are purely peaceful, and said that allegations about a new suspected site in Tehran was specious.

It is also threatening to abandon its promise to suspend uranium enrichment, the centrepiece of the diplomatic breakthrough made by Britain, Germany, and France in Tehran in October in Tehran.

"We had, we have, and we will have a nuclear programme to enrich uranium to produce fuel," President Khatami said this week.

"With the ongoing trend, we have no moral commitment any more to suspend uranium enrichment."

The Iranians are also threatening not to ratify the agreement with the IAEA known as the additional protocol, which authorises the inspectors to demand greater and faster access to sites and individuals in its nuclear programme.