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. US diplomat casts doubt on new Iran nuclear deadline
LJUBLJANA, Jan 16 (AFP) Jan 16, 2008
A US diplomat expressed doubts here Wednesday that Iran would clear up remaining questions on its nuclear programme before a mid-February deadline, after failing to live up to earlier promises.

"We are disappointed that Iran failed to meet the November deadline, the December deadline...," the US ambassador to the UN in Vienna Greg Shulte, who was speaking at the Slovenian Society for International Relations, told AFP.

"Let's see if they are ready to really fully cooperate over the next four weeks to meet this new mid-February deadline."

Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency agreed last week that a "work plan" on ending the Iranian nuclear standoff should be completed in four weeks, during a visit to Tehran by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei.

The work plan, part of a deal struck between ElBaradei and Tehran last year to deal with unresolved questions on Iran's atomic drive, had originally envisaged resolving all issues by the end of 2007.

These included Iran's past experiments with plutonium, its use of uranium-enriching P1 and P2 centrifuges and most significantly, possible military applications of the nuclear technology.

"We always supported the IAEA and the director-general in trying to move forward with this work plan. But we've always been worried that Iran is using the work plan to try to buy time," Shulte said.

"Full cooperation means they need to come clean with their past, they need to explain these nuclear weapon activities they have, and they need to commit to giving full insight into the present, concluding by implementing the Additional Protocol," an agreement allowing unlimited IAEA inspections of all nuclear facilities.

Western powers want Iran to suspend uranium enrichment, a process they fear Tehran could use to make a nuclear weapon. Iran insists its drive is peaceful.

"It's a continued stall by Iran. They provided some information on activities that took place in the 80s and 90s but... what were they doing just four years ago and what are they doing today?" Shulte asked.

"Those are the types of questions that need an answer."

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