West ponders IAEA resolution after Iran weapons allegations

Other News Materials 26 February 2008 20:38 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Members of the UN nuclear watchdog are considering a new resolution against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) upcoming March meeting after data presented by the IAEA suggested Tehran had been working on military applications for its nuclear programme.

The resolution, the first in two years, will urge Iran to finally answer all outstanding questions and will find "broad consensus" European diplomats in Vienna said.

On Monday, IAEA experts presented data to its member states showing Iranian work on fitting a missile re-entry vehicle with a nuclear warhead, diplomats present at the meeting said.

Simon Smith, Britain's ambassador at the IAEA, told journalists after the meeting that some of the work may have take place later than 2003 - the date when according to US intelligence estimates, Iran stopped weapons work.

This interpretation was highly contested by Iran and members of the non-aligned movement ( NAM), deepening the rift between NAM and Western powers. "There will be big fallout from this," one diplomat feared.

Cuba's chief delegate Norma Coicochea Estenoz, who holds the NAM chairmanship, declined to comment on details but said NAM was aware of the resolutions push and would discuss the issue in their upcoming meeting.

Iran's Ambassador Ali Ashgar 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.

His country was refusing to further discuss the issue, he said.

In an IAEA report on the agency's investigation into Iran's nuclear programme circulated on Friday, the agency expressed "grave concern" 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.

According to Western diplomats, they were shown extensive documentation the IAEA received from various member states, including an Iranian video of designs for a missile re-entry vehicle, that was most likely designed to hold a nuclear warhead.

Diplomats present at the briefing said IAEA experts told them that no other use than a weapons design was possible. The technical information regarding design work at Iran's Shahab-3 missile made no sense for conventional or biological weapons or satellites.

They 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.