Thu, Jun 10, 2004 - Page 7 News List

Key EU nations want Iran's answer on IAEA questions


Key European nations presented a draft resolution that would censure Tehran for not answering key questions raised by a UN atomic agency investigation into Iran's secret nuclear program.

The confidential document "deplores" the fact that Iran's "cooperation has not been complete, timely and proactive," a diplomat said on Tuesday, quoting parts of the proposed draft written by France, Britain and Germany.

At the same time, the diplomat said, the draft "acknowledges Iranian cooperation" in granting agency inspectors access to locations including "defense industry" sites -- essentially military bases.

In an allusion to Pakistan -- which indirectly supplied much of Iran's covert nuclear program through renegade scientist A.Q. Khan -- the draft calls on the "full and close cooperation of third countries" to clear up Iran's nuclear ambiguities.

Diplomats close to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) say Pakistan has refused to allow IAEA experts to independently take samples that would test Iranian assertions that traces of weapons-grade uranium found in Iran came from equipment bought from Khan's network.

If the IAEA cannot match up isotope samples from Pakistan and Iran, it cannot verify whether Iran's version is accurate or a cover-up to hide the fact that it conducted experiments to enrich uranium to the levels used to make nuclear warheads.

IAEA diplomats are preparing for a 35-country review of Iran's suspect nuclear program.

The diplomats said the draft resolution -- circulated informally among delegations representing the IAEA's 35 board member nations ahead of their meeting Monday -- also focused on Iran's centrifuge program, the other main outstanding issue in the IAEA's more than yearlong probe.

After initial denials, Tehran has acknowledged that it had researched advanced centrifuges capable of uranium enrichment. But it denies suggestions it wanted to embark on full-scale enrichment using the equipment, despite IAEA findings showing that it had bought thousands of parts far in excess of what it would have needed only for research.

The draft, whose language could change before it is formally presented at the board meeting, called on Iran to "work proactively to enable to agency to gain a full understanding" of the scope of its P-2 centrifuge program.

It also urged Tehran to rethink plans to build a uranium conversion plant and heavy water reactors.

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