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New Report Says Iran Concealed Details About Its Nuclear Program - 2003-11-20


In a long-awaited report on Iran's nuclear program, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Thursday that Iran has hidden details of its nuclear program for years. But he also said Iran seems to have adopted a new policy.

The IAEA director, Mohamed ElBaradei, told the agency's board Thursday morning that Iran has conducted what he called a deliberate counter-effort that spanned many years to conceal material, facilities and activities. He said Iran's undisclosed nuclear activities included the enrichment and reprocessing of uranium that could be used in a nuclear weapons program.

Mr. ElBaradei said the many breaches and failures by Iran to honor its international obligations are of deep concern to the agency.

But the U.N. nuclear chief also noted that Iran is taking corrective action and allowing inspectors to check nuclear facilities. Mr. ElBaradei described this as a new chapter of openness and co-operation by the Islamic Republic. He went on to praise Tehran for suspending its uranium enrichment program.

Still, Mr. ElBaradei said it will be some time before the agency could conclude that Iran's nuclear program is purely peaceful. But he also said it will take time to determine whether the The United States is right when it says Iran's nuclear activities are a front for a nuclear weapons program.

The 35-member board, including the United States but not Iran, will debate Mr. ElBaradei's report on Thursday and Friday.

The United States wants a tough resolution condemning Iran's past failures, but key European nations want a softer resolution, stressing the Iran's recent co-operation. A compromise resoltution is expected by Friday.