Nuclear watchdog asks Iran to come clean

UN inspectors in Iran have uncovered evidence of nuclear experiments Tehran did not previously disclose, the nuclear watchdog has said.

    The US says the Bushehr plant is building nuclear weapons

    In a new report on Tuesday, the International Atomic Energy Agency

     warned the

    country again

     to come clean over its nuclear programme.

    The dossier dealt

    Tehran a setback in its efforts to persuade the world that its

    nuclear programme is peaceful and that it is fully cooperating with the UN


    IAEA inspectors combing Iran for evidence of a weapons programme found signs

    of polonium, a radioactive element that can help trigger a nuclear chain

    reaction, the report said.

    The agency said the traces of polonium-210 were found in September, and

    that the element "could be used for military purposes... specifically as a

    neutron initiator in some designs of nuclear weapons".

    Iran had never mentioned working with polonium-210 in earlier declarations of

    its past and present nuclear activities, it said.

    Atomic programme

    Polonium-210 also can be used to generate electricity, which Iran contends

    is the sole purpose of its atomic programme.

    Saber Zaimian, spokesman for the

    Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, declined to comment on the report, saying

    his organisation was studying it.

    Muhammad al-Baradai, the IAEA
    chief, wants Iran to come clean  

    The revelation came as the IAEA board prepares to convene in Vienna on 8 

    March to reassess the Iranian threat amid mounting pressure from the United

    States and other countries that contend Iran has been trying to build an

    atomic bomb.

    The IAEA's report, however, suggested the agency is more concerned with

    the discovery earlier this month of an advanced P-2 centrifuge system in Iran

    that could enrich uranium for weapons use.

    The Bush administration, too, has

    said the finding raises "serious concerns" about Tehran's intentions.

    "The omission... of any reference to its possession of the P-2

    centrifuge design drawings and associated research, manufacturing and

    mechanical testing activities is a matter of serious concern, particularly in

    view of the importance and sensitivity of those activities," the IAEA report


    Nonproliferation Treaty

    "It creates suspicions why this was not disclosed to us," a senior

    diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

    "They said it was a

    full and final declaration. The question is: is there something else to be

    declared? We are trying to create confidence. This is a real setback."

    As a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Iran is prohibited

    from developing nuclear weapons.

    The agency said Tehran has assured the IAEA it will suspend the assembly

    and testing of centrifuges and the manufacture of centrifuge components by

    next week.

    It called on Iran to give a "correct and complete" accounting of

    its nuclear activities, but said the government was "actively cooperating"

    with the agency.

    "The omission... of any reference to its (Iran's)

    possession of the P-2

    centrifuge design drawings and associated research, manufacturing and

    mechanical testing activities is a matter of serious concern, particularly in

    view of the importance and sensitivity of those activities"

    IAEA report

    "As a result of its monitoring activities, the agency is able to confirm

    that there has been no operation or testing of any centrifuges, either with

    or without nuclear material," at Iran's pilot fuel enrichment plant,

    Tuesday's report said.

    International pressure

    Confronted by evidence last year, Iran acknowledged hiding nearly two

    decades of nuclear activity, including importing enrichment technology linked

    to the black market network of Pakistani scientist Abd al-Qadir Khan.

    Those imports of equipment and expertise have allowed Tehran to create a

    domestic production line of centrifuges that can be used both to process

    uranium for power - or enrich it to levels high enough to manufacture


    Under international pressure last year, Iran pledged to cooperate fully

    with the IAEA in efforts to prove it was not interested in nuclear weapons,

    including opening its activities to full outside scrutiny.

    Iran suspended its enrichment programme last year but continues to make and

    assemble centrifuges despite international criticism that such actions

    violate the spirit of its pledge to stop all enrichment activities.

    The IAEA, along with the United States and other nations, wants Iran to

    scrap its enrichment programme altogether.

    Tehran has refused to do so.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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