The International Atomic Energy Agency board of governors met in a closed-door session Thursday to review a confidential report from the head of the agency on Iran's controversial nuclear program. Mohamed ElBaradei told the board many questions are still outstanding after three years of work. At the end of the meeting, the U.N. nuclear watchdog released a statement saying they postponed referring Iran to the U.N. Security Council.
The United States is convinced that Tehran is secretly working on a nuclear bomb, but so far the IAEA has not found conclusive evidence for it.
But the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency says, after three year of testing and inspections, it still has questions about Iran's nuclear enrichment program and urged Tehran to be more open and cooperative.
Mohamed ElBaradei, IAEA chief who won this year's Nobel Peace Prize for the work of his agency, told the 35-member board of governors that Iran must respond "without delay" to clarify several outstanding issues, including its centrifuge work which could form part of a nuclear weapons program. Tehran denies it is building an atomic bomb.
Gregory Schulte, U.S. ambassador to the IAEA, says Iran's cooperation with the agency continues to be slow and incomplete.
"First off cooperation with the IAEA inspectors, secondly re-suspension of uranium conversion, and third negotiations with the EU three," he said. "And in each of these areas I have to say that progress has been disappointing".
The U.S. envoy says the latest IAEA report shows Iran still has to answer vital questions.
"And the report started to open the door on a whole new series of issues that are out there and these issues relate to weaponization," added Mr. Schulte. "What type of efforts does Iran have under way to not only produce fuel for a nuclear weapon but to fashion that fuel into a nuclear weapon".
Iran is refusing to give up its right to enriching uranium that can be used in the development of nuclear warheads.
But Mr. Schulte says he is encouraged that Russia and China with energy ties to Iran are also concerned and are gradually coming round to backing the United States and Europeans on the 35-member IAEA board.