A UN nuclear agency report said Iran produced small amounts of plutonium as part of covert nuclear activities. While finding "no evidence" that Tehran tried to make atomic arms, it said such efforts cannot be ruled out.
The significance of the plutonium extraction was unclear, and the report did not link it to weapons activity. Plutonium also has uses in peaceful programs to generate power -- which is what Iran says the sole purpose of its nuclear activities is.
But the report, by the head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), criticized Iran for not reporting its processing activities, listing it as part of dozens of cases where Tehran had covert programs in place.
"Neither the [processing] activities nor the separated plutonium had been previously reported to the agency," said the report, which was seen by The Associated Press yesterday.
While praising recent cooperation with the agency, much of the 29-page document faults Iran for not telling the truth in the past about its nuclear programs.
Prepared for a Nov. 20 meeting of the IAEA board of governors, the report comes as the US continues to focus attention on Iran's nuclear activities. The George W. Bush administration has argued that Iran should be declared in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty at that meeting -- a move that would lead to UN Security Council involvement.
The report credited Iran for a change of heart since September, when the agency demanded it clear up suspicions it was running a covert weapons program by explaining contradictions and ambiguities in its nuclear activities.