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IAEA: Confidence in Iran's Nuclear Program Has Eroded

  • Marlene Smith

The International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran has exempted some centrifuges from its commitment to freeze uranium enrichment and lacks trustworthiness because of past concealment and delays in disclosing information. The IAEA board of governors in Vienna, is to decide whether to censure Iran for its conduct.

IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky told reporters outside the board meeting that the issue of Iran's nuclear program was by no means closed.

"The two most important issues are as we've said for some time, to explain the contamination that we've seen on the enriched uranium particles from environmental samples, there are still some unanswered questions as to how those came to be where they were," he said. "And the other issue is the so-called P 2 centrifuge program that Iran has there's some unanswered questions about the nature and the extent of that program, particularly what happened between 1995 and 2002 and around 1995 Iran got the designs for the P2 and they say that they didn't take any action and they say they didn't do any work on the P2 until 2002. We need to see more documentation and more corroboration to support that statement, so far we haven't had enough to satisfy ourselves that there was no action taken in those years."

Mr. Gwozdecky said he hopes the 35-nation IAEA board will reach a consensus on Iran later this week.

The IAEA says its wants to do independent sampling in Pakistan to confirm the actual source of contaminated equipment in Iran. Tehran claims the contamination was already on equipment it bought on the nuclear black market.

Earlier Thursday, the head of the IAEA, Mohamed ElBaradei, told board members in a closed session that Iran's confidence deficit needs to be restored through more cooperation and transparency.

Mr. ElBaradei said IAEA inspectors have verified Iran's suspension of its uranium enrichment program and have sealed equipment and installed cameras to monitor activities at facilities in Iran. But he said Iran has informed the IAEA it wants to continue to use around 20 centrifuge components for research and that this request was under consideration.

The request has annoyed European powers, who recently struck a deal under which Tehran would fully freeze uranium enrichment activities in exchange for nuclear technology.

The U.S. government accuses Iran of secretly working on a nuclear weapons program and is pushing for a tough resolution to censure the Islamic republic. Iran denies these charges.

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