IAEA is not getting answers from Iran, say diplomats

Iran Materials 25 February 2008 23:37 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Positions remained hardened after a report by the UN nuclear watchdog focusing on alleged weaponization studies by Iran, with western nations Monday accusing Tehran of providing inadequate answers.

" Iran's answers remained incomplete, inadequate and evasive," British Ambassador Simon John Smith told reporters after a technical briefing by experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to its board members.

"The report confirms and amplifies our concerns," he added.

On Friday, IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei circulated a progress report on the agency's investigation into Iran's nuclear programme, saying that open questions remained on alleged weaponization studies, including high explosives testing, green salt - a uranium conversion project, and design of a missile re-entry vehicle.

Iran's Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh reaffirmed Tehran's position that the studies were fabrications and accused the United States of undermining the IAEA's credibility by involving it in investigations outside its mandate.

"This is ridiculous...an undergraduate could do this," he said about the documents presented by the IAEA, adding that the studies were talking about "one Iranian in 70 million thinking about uranium conversion."

His claims that Iran had answered all outstanding questions about its nuclear past with respect to a work plan concluded with the IAEA were challenged by western nations, who stressed that the issue was far from closed.

"It is not accurate that all questions were closed...the work plan is not satisfactory completed," Smith said.

According to western diplomats, they were shown extensive documentation, including an Iranian video of designs for a missile re-entry vehicle, that was most likely designed to hold a nuclear warhead.

Diplomats also dismissed Iranian claims that Tehran had been shown this information on short notice. "The IAEA had these questions since 2003, and asked Iran about it in the past," one diplomat said.

In Washington, world powers met to discuss the way forward on Iran, including a third round of a UN Security Council sanctions resolution.