IAEA: Iran Providing 'Diminishing' Information on Its Nuclear Program

By Robin Wright
Washington Post Staff Writer
November 15, 2007; 2:00 PM

Iran is providing "diminishing" information about its current nuclear program, even though it has recently provided some details about its past efforts to acquire nuclear technology in response to international pressure, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said in a report issued in Vienna today.

"Since early 2006, the agency has not received the type of information that Iran had previously been providing," the International Atomic Energy Agency concluded. "The agency's knowledge about Iran's current nuclear program is diminishing," with Tehran's cooperation "reactive rather than proactive."

The United States quickly lashed out at Iran and said its failure to answer all questions and provide access to all personnel involved in its controversial nuclear program were grounds for the United Nations to move forward on a long-delayed resolution imposing new sanctions on the Islamic republic.

"The key thing from the director general's report is that Iran's cooperation remains selective and incomplete," said Gregory L. Schulte, the U.S. envoy to the IAEA in Vienna, which has been trying to work with Iran to clear up questions about its program. "So Iran has not met the world's expectation that it would disclose information on both its current and past programs."

The White House said the IAEA report proves that Iran is not interested in working with the international community. The United States will work with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany on a third round of Security Council sanctions, since Iran has also failed to suspend uranium enrichment and reprocessing, said White House spokeswoman Dana Perino. Two earlier U.N. resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran, which passed in December and March, have been unsuccessful in changing Tehran's position.

The Bush administration has been counting on the IAEA report and a report by European Union chief Javiar Solana expected this month to end five months of tension among the five veto-wielding members of the Security Council about further steps to squeeze Tehran. Russia and China have particularly resisted U.S. pressure, mainly to give more time for the so-called "work plan" designed by the IAEA to find out about Iran's past activities through 2002.

Britain, which along with France and Germany is leading diplomatic efforts to work with Iran, also warned today that Tehran has to "come clean" on its nuclear program "without delay" or face new U.N. as well as European Union sanctions.

But Iran's new chief negotiator, Saeed Jalili, told a news conference that the IAEA report proved "most ambiguities" about its program have now been removed and said allegations that Iran is trying to subvert its peaceful nuclear energy program to develop the world's deadliest weapon are baseless.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the report by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei shows the world that Iran has been "right and the resistance of our nation has been correct."

Arms experts say the report indicates that Iran failed to provide full information on its centrifuge program.

"The idea was to close the file on the centrifuge program. If you can't close it, you can't move on to other issues," said David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security and a former U.N. weapons inspector. "But the answers aren't thorough and the declaration is not complete."

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