Declaring some sites off-limits to U.N. inspectors, Iran said Wednesday it fears that leaked information gathered by them could help those planning a possible strike on its military installations.
Meanwhile, the United States, which has not ruled out such an attack on Iran, urged the U.N. Security Council to take action against Tehran, saying the Islamic Republic is “cynically” pursuing nuclear arms while hiding its intentions from the world — an allegation Iran denies.
Jackie Sanders, chief U.S. delegate to the board of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the U.N nuclear watchdog, made the comments in response to an update on Iran’s nuclear record after more than two years of examination by the agency.
Sanders called the IAEA report a “startling list of Iranian attempts to hide and mislead and delay the work” of agency experts, and urged other countries to support a U.S. drive to have Iran referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible sanctions — which past board meetings have refused to do.
Parchin site in figurative crosshairs
Iran’s refusal to grant IAEA inspectors renewed access to the Parchin military site after an initial, severely restricted visit last month was one of the issues raised by the agency’s review. The United States says Iran may be testing high-explosive components for nuclear weapons, using an inert core of depleted uranium at Parchin as a dry run for a bomb that would use fissile material.
The IAEA says it has found no firm evidence that Iran’s nuclear program is intended for anything other than peacefully generating electricity. The agency also has not been able to support U.S. assertions that nearly 20 years of covert nuclear programs discovered more than two years ago were aimed at making nuclear weapons. Iran says these programs, too, were intended to generate electricity.
Iranian chief delegate Sirous Nasseri, noted Wednesday that his country was not obligated to allow any access to sites like Parchin, which are not part of the agency’s purview.
Worries about “confidentiality of information” gathered on such visits “are more intense in view of potential threats of military strikes against ... facilities visited by (the) agency,” he said.
While describing fears that America was getting ready for an attack as “ridiculous,” President Bush has refused to rule it out completely as a long-term possibility, saying last week that “all options are on the table.”
The IAEA review also focused on Iran’s decision to block any further probing of possible dual use equipment at the Lavizan-Shian site near Tehran — a move that effectively shut down one area of the agency’s inquiry.
The U.S. State Department last year said Lavizan-Shian’s buildings had been completely dismantled and topsoil had been removed from the site in attempts to hide nuclear-weapons related experiments.
IAEA review cites Arak reactor capability
The review also noted that Iran continues to build a heavy water reactor in the city of Arak that can produce plutonium, despite agency requests to cease construction on the facility.
It also mentioned delays by Iran in informing the agency that it was building tunnels in the central city of Isfahan for nuclear storage, and blips in its commitment to totally freeze all activities related to uranium enrichment.
Iran has suspended work on its enrichment program pending negotiations with France, Germany and Britain. But it has repeatedly said the freeze is short-term, despite hopes that it will fully scrap its plans.
“This is something that is not on the table and will not be on the table,” Nasseri told reporters, saying his country had “gone through blood and sweat and tears” to develop the enrichment program.