UN atomic agency set to issue full report on Iran nuclear program
VIENNA (AFP) Nov 15, 2004
The UN atomic agency was set to issue a comprehensive report Monday on Iran's nuclear program, after Tehran pledged to fully suspend uranium enrichment in order to show it has no intentions to make atomic weapons.
The Iranian pledge, in a letter handed to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Sunday, ended a deadlock over Iran's response to Washington's charges that Tehran is secretly developing nuclear weapons.
The IAEA is to mention Iran's agreement in a report to be released Monday to the body's 35-nation board of governors ahead of a board meeting November 25 that will decide whether to send Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions, as the United States wants.
The Iranian suspension, which the IAEA will be verifying between now and November 25, should make it harder for Washington to get the matter sent to the Security Council.
It could even force changes in US policy, one leading analyst said.
"This will put a lot of pressure on the Bush administration to come up with a new policy," David Albright, head of the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) told AFP by telephone.
He said the European trio of Britain, France and Germany which negotiated the deal with Iran "have brought us to a good point and the United States has to find a way to be involved."
Albright said there was little chance a long-term agreement with Iran could work without Washington signing on to it, since the Iranians are looking for trade and security guarantees, as well as access to peaceful nuclear technology.
Meanwhile, the report is not expected to report a "smoking gun" against Iran.
In intensive investigation since February 2003 of Iran's nuclear program, the IAEA has uncovered some activities deemed suspicious, but nothing conclusive that proves Iran is seeking weapons of mass destruction, diplomats said.
The report is to sum up the entire investigation to permit the board to make a definitive ruling on Iran.
Diplomats close to the IAEA said the report had little new in it beyond what has already been covered in six previous written reports, mainly that Iran had violated international safeguards agreements by hiding nuclear activities for 18 years but that there is no proof it is secretly developing nuclear weapons.
One diplomat cited the November 2003 report which said: "There is no evidence that the previously undeclared nuclear material and activitiees referred to above were related to a nuclear weapons programme."
But the diplomat said unexplained items remained, especially the extent of Iran's uranium enrichment program and what sort of help Iran got from abroad in developing it.
The report "will call again for other member states to help the IAEA move forward" in explaining the international black market which supplied Iran with nuclear materials and technology, the diplomat said.
A diplomat close to the IAEA said Iran has now agreed in its letter to the agency "to implement a full suspension of its uranium enrichment program," the process that makes fuel for nuclear reactors but also the explosive core of atomic bombs.
A diplomat in Vienna close to the talks said Iran had agreed to a full suspension including "no testing or production in any conversion facility."
The diplomat was referring to what had been a sticking point over Iran agreeing to not even manufacture the feedstock gas that is the first step in the enrichment process.
Iran has since October 2003 suspended as a confidence-building measure the actual enrichment of uranium but not support activities such as making the feed gas for enrichment and manufacturing the centrifuges that refine the uranium.
The European Union is ready to offer Iran incentives such as access to nuclear fuel from international sources and even a light-water research reactor.All rights reserved. © 2005 Agence France-Presse. Sections of the information displayed on this page (dispatches, photographs, logos) are protected by intellectual property rights owned by Agence France-Presse. As a consequence, you may not copy, reproduce, modify, transmit, publish, display or in any way commercially exploit any of the content of this section without the prior written consent of Agence France-Presse.