U.N. nuclear chief suggests progress slow in Iran investigation

Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Yukiya Amano

(Reuters) – Iran has still not implemented all the nuclear transparency measures it had agreed to carry out by late August, the head of the U.N. atomic energy agency said on Monday, suggesting little headway in an inquiry into suspected bomb research.

Western officials say Iran must cooperate more with United Nations nuclear sleuths if it wants to settle a protracted dispute with six world powers over its nuclear program and be rid of crippling financial sanctions.

Nearly two months after an Aug. 25 deadline for answering questions about alleged activity that might be used to develop atomic arms, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) made clear that Iran had not yet fully done so.

“In order to resolve all outstanding issues, it is very important that Iran implements, in a timely manner, all practical measures agreed under the Framework for Cooperation,” Yukiya Amano said. That accord was reached with Tehran last year to help advance the long-running investigation.

Addressing a conference at IAEA headquarters on nuclear safeguards, he said the U.N. agency was not in a position “to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran”.

The IAEA has been trying for years to get to the bottom of Western intelligence reports suggesting Iran was designing a nuclear warhead. Iran say the intelligence was fabricated by its foes. But it has promised to work with the IAEA since last year

Tehran said last month the IAEA lacked “substantiated” evidence. Diplomats say the United States and its Western allies as well as Israel have provided information on Iran to the IAEA.

Iran may see some support in comments by a Russian envoy, who called on the U.N. agency to disclose the origin of data it wants to use that is not obtained through its own inspections.

Without naming any country, Russian Ambassador Grigory Berdennikov told the safeguards conference that “some states” may wish to turn the IAEA into their intelligence branch.

Russia is one of the six world powers which are trying to negotiate a diplomatic deal with Iran to end the nuclear dispute. But Russia and China have had closer trade relations with Tehran than the United States, France, Germany and Britain and they have also criticized Western sanctions on Tehran.

The powers are seeking to limit the size of Iran’s future nuclear program and thereby extend the time it would need to accumulate fissile material for a weapon. The IAEA is investigating alleged research and experiments in the past that could be used to make the bomb itself.

By Reuters


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