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IAEA Chief Expresses Dissatisfaction With Iran's Cooperation - 2004-03-08

The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday he is seriously concerned at Iran's failure to provide full details of its nuclear program, and says outstanding issues must be resolved soon.

The IAEA director, Mohamed ElBaradei, told the 35-nation board of governors Monday that Iran had hidden nuclear research from the agency, including work on advanced centrifuge designs that could be used in a nuclear weapons program.

Iran gave the IAEA a declaration of its nuclear activities last October, claiming it was full and accurate. International inspectors working in Iran since then have found hidden nuclear technology at military locations.

The United States says this shows that Iran's program is not peaceful as it claims. Iranian envoy to the United Nations in Vienna, Pirooz Hosseini, told reporters in Vienna Monday that there was a misunderstanding as to what information the IAEA expected.

"This was a matter of differences or legal differences between our technicians and the agency," he said. "They [the inspectors] felt we had to report everything there of our obligations of the safeguard agreement."

Mr. Hosseini said Iran is cooperating fully with the IAEA.

But the IAEA chief, Mr. ElBaradei, said it was vital in the upcoming months for Iran to provide a full disclosure of all its nuclear activities. He described the recent failures as a setback to Tehran's stated policy of transparency.

The IAEA is still investigating Iran's account of how contamination from highly enriched uranium came to be found at a site that Iran tried to clean up before inspectors gained access.

The IAEA board is expected to pass a tough resolution on Iran later this week.

Also on Monday, Mr. ElBaradei praised Libya's cooperation with the IAEA, which has included information on the global black market in nuclear technology. Libya will sign what is called an "additional protocol" on Wednesday giving the IAEA's inspectors greater access to its nuclear facilities.

But Mr. ElBaradei also repeated his allegations that both Iran and Libya violated international nuclear safeguard agreements for years. He said there must now be full disclosure from both countries.