Iran delivers nuclear report to UN watchdog
VIENNA (AFP) Oct 23, 2003
Iran delivered Thursday a report to the UN nuclear watchdog to allay international concern about its nuclear program, just a week ahead of a crunch deadline to prove it is not secretly developing atomic weapons.

The keenly-awaited handover of the report comes two days after three EU foreign ministers visited Tehran to persuade the Islamic republic to come clean on its nuclear program and allow tougher inspections of nuclear sites.

The report "fully discloses all our past peaceful activities in the nuclear field," said the Iranian ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, Ali Akbar Salehi, who handed over the documents to IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei.

ElBaradei said that the IAEA now had to "immediately start all our verification activities and to reconstruct the full history" of Iran's nuclear program.

He said that after verifying the information Iran has provided, "I hope we will come to the conclusion that we have seen all past nuclear activities in Iran."

ElBaradei had visited Tehran last week to press for Iran's cooperation ahead of an October 31 deadline set by the agency for the Islamic republic to come clean on its nuclear program.

Non-compliance by Iran with the IAEA deadline could lead the nuclear watchdog to take the issue to the UN Security Council, which could then impose punishing sanctions on Tehran.

Salehi said: "This is an important day in my view. Iran has acted on its words."

He said there had been confusion over the Iranian program since Iran "had to do some of its activities very discreetly and that is because of sanctions on Iran for the past 20 years."

The visit to Tehran Tuesday of foreign ministers from Britain, France and Germany that led to the agreement for Iran to disclose its nuclear program showed that "Iran and Europe have comprised an axis of providence," Salehi said.

He said this cooperation showed that one "can resolve international issues through dialogue rather than letting them get out of control through international crises."

Yielding to international pressure, Iran also agreed after the visit of the trio to allow tougher inspections of its nuclear sites and to halt uranium enrichment.

ElBaradei said the IAEA expected to receive a letter from Iran "in the next couple of days" saying when Tehran would sign the additional protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that authorizes unrestricted and unannounced inspections.

Neither he nor Salehi would reveal what was in the report, which sources said was an inch-and-a-half thick bound folder.

But ElBaradei said the IAEA expected to have what was needed to verify Iran's claim that traces of highly enriched uranium found in Iran were contamination from imported equipment and not the result of production of uranium that could be used to make nuclear weapons.

"We should know the origins of equipment and materials," ElBaradei said.

Iran has been asked to give records of what it has purchased and from where, how it tested and did development of centrifuges that can be used to enrich uranium and a history of its scientific experiments and development.

In Berlin Wednesday, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom accused Iran of developing nuclear weapons and called on the UN nuclear watchdog to conduct intrusive inspections across the Islamic republic. Washington also says Iran is trying to make the bomb.

Diplomats say the IAEA has a long list of sites it wishes to visit, some of which are part of the country's closely-guarded defence establishment and operated by the ideological spearhead of the regime, the powerful Revolutionary Guards.

Visiting them will be a sensitive task, given the frequent warnings from powerful hardliners in the regime that "spies" are seeking to unseat the nearly 25-year-old regime as part of a "Zionist-US" conspiracy.

ElBaradei said Iran's decision to stop enriching uranium was an important "confidence-building measure" but Iran has stressed it still has the right to enrich uranium at some future stage.