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U.N. stymied in Iran nuclear investigation

Iran has stymied the latest U.N. attempts to probe allegations that it tried to make nuclear arms, diplomats told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Iran has stymied the latest U.N. attempts to probe allegations that it tried to make nuclear arms, dismissing U.S. and other intelligence purportedly proving such efforts as bogus, diplomats told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

The International Atomic Energy Agency — the U.N. nuclear watchdog — will acknowledge its failure to make headway in its efforts to follow up on the allegations in a report to be presented as early as Friday to its 35-nation board, said the diplomats.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei was hopeful a month ago in announcing Iran's agreement to review the intelligence collected by the agency, just a few weeks after Tehran declared the books closed on any attempt to look into its alleged nuclear arms programs.

"By the end of May we will be in a position to get the explanation and clarification from Iran" about the allegations, he said back then, describing Tehran's apparent change of heart as a "positive step."

Back in February, IAEA Deputy Director General Olli Heinonen detailed the intelligence — and the results of the agency's own investigations — to the IAEA's 35-nation board at a closed door presentation.

Those present at the meeting said that the material shown included an Iranian video depicting mock-ups of a missile re-entry vehicle. They said Heinonen suggested the component — which brings missiles back from the stratosphere — was configured in a way that strongly suggested it was meant to carry a nuclear warhead.

Back then a senior diplomat at the meeting said other documentation showed the Iranians experimenting with warheads and missile trajectories where "the height of the burst ... didn't make sense for conventional warheads."

Commenting on Iran Monday, ElBaradei told an audience in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheik: "We haven't seen indications or any concrete evidence that Iran is building a nuclear weapon and I've been saying that consistently for the last five years."

But a senior diplomat familiar with the workings of the IAEA recently told the AP that leading agency investigators considered much of the intelligence forwarded by the U.S. and other nations compelling evidence that Iran had engaged in clandestine nuclear weapons work.

Two diplomats who are familiar with the course of the investigations said Tuesday, however that Iran had rejected the evidence presented by agency officials over the past month as falsified.

The diplomats, who demanded anonymity because their information is confidential, said Iranian officials insisted during the month-long probe that all of the nation's nuclear activities — including nearly two decades of clandestine work discovered only six years ago — was peaceful.