Iran Withholds Key Nuclear Documents
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
PARIS, May 26 -- A new report by the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency said Monday that Iran continues to thwart efforts to obtain crucial documents that could shed light on the past activities of its nuclear program, but said inspectors have found no evidence that Tehran is currently attempting to divert its nuclear program to military uses.
The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency also said Iran's civilian nuclear program has made only incremental progress in recent months, despite claims by Iranian leaders that the program is making significantly larger strides.
The European Union's foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, said Monday that he was prepared to offer Iran a new package of incentives to persuade it to abide by U.N. demands that it stop uranium enrichment in its nuclear program.
Solana declined to provide details of the new proposals, a revision of an offer rejected by Tehran in 2006. That plan would have allowed another country to enrich uranium for power stations in exchange for Iran halting its own enrichment efforts. The United States and some European countries have accused Iran of using its civilian nuclear program as a cover for developing a nuclear weapons program, an allegation Tehran denies.
The report delivered Monday to the IAEA's 35-member Board of Governors said allegations that Iran conducted research on high explosives and missile warheads in the 1990s "remain a matter of serious concern."
IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei wrote, "Clarification of these is critical to an assessment of the nature of Iran's past and present nuclear program." He said the IAEA's "overall assessment of the nature of Iran's nuclear program also requires clarifications by Iran concerning some procurement activities of military related institutions."
The report continued, "It should be emphasized, however, that the agency has not detected the actual use of nuclear material in connection with the alleged studies."
Iran has criticized the IAEA for failing to provide it with copies of some of the documents accusing it of conducting research for nuclear weapons. Some U.S. agencies have refused to allow the IAEA to show the original documents to Iran, according to sources familiar with the investigations.
U.S. intelligence agencies concluded last year that Iran stopped weapons research in 2003; Iran has denied it ever conducted such research.
ElBaradei said IAEA investigators have made 14 unannounced inspections in the last 13 months, noting, "The agency has been able to continue to verify" that Iran has not diverted any of its declared nuclear material to military uses.
The IAEA reported that Iran had 3,500 uranium-enrichment centrifuges operating at its Natanz underground nuclear facility, slightly more than the number reported earlier this year, but about half of what Iranian officials claimed they planned to have operational.