US says IAEA must hold Iran to nuclear pledges as compliance deadline passes
WASHINGTON (AFP) Oct 31, 2003
The United States on Friday called for the International Atomic Energy Agency to hold Iran to its promise to come clean on its nuclear programs, as a deadline passed for the Islamic republic to meet IAEA demands that it prove it is not developing atomic weapons.

"Make no mistake about it: Iran needs to come clean and fully comply with its international obligations," White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters. "That is our position and that remains our position."

The State Department reiterated each of the IAEA's specific demands and said the agency's governing board -- which will meet November 20 and 21 to consider a report on Iran's compliance -- should ensure that all had been satisfied.

"Those are the standards against which the reporting on Iran needs to be judged and will need to be judged," spokesman Richard Boucher said.

"The IAEA board will have to make the judgment to decide whether (Iran's) actions ... comply fully with these standards," he told reporters, urging board members not to come to any conclusions on Iranian compliance until hearing IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei's report.

"We expect that all will withhold their judgement whether Iran fully meets the board's requirements until they see the director general's report, including ourselves," Boucher said.

The IAEA's Vienna headquarters said earlier Friday it expects next week to receive a letter from Iran agreeing to allow wider and unannounced international inspections of its nuclear program -- one of the key demands made of Tehran in September.

On Thursday, ElBaradei said that a report Iran filed on October 23 to answer the agency's questions was "comprehensive," but cautioned that the jury was still out on its accuracy.

Iran also agreed during an unprecedented joint visit by the British, French and German foreign ministers to Tehran on October 21 to sign up to the tougher inspections regime.

But it still faces the possibility the IAEA will judge it to be in non-compliance with the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and send the issue to the UN Security Council, which could then impose sanctions.

A key question is whether traces of highly enriched uranium found by IAEA inspectors had come from an enrichment program that could make weapons-grade material or had come from contaminated equipment that had been imported, as Iran claims.

The United States, which has long accused Iran of secretly pursuing the development of nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian energy program, intends to press the IAEA for such a referral unless each and every demand is met.

"We've all along held that Iran has been in noncompliance," Boucher said. "But we look forward to seeing (ElBaradei's) report, to find out if Iran has brought itself into compliance by fulfilling all these requirements of the resolution."