IAEA chief: Can't confirm Iran nuke work peaceful

March 1, 2010 16:11

VIENNA  — The chief of the UN nuclear watchdog agency said Monday he cannot confirm all of Iran's nuclear activities are peaceful, carefully choosing his words after tensions were sparked by his recent suggestion that Teheran may be working on a secret arms program.

Members of the 35-nation International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board were closely following IAEA head Yukiya Amano's statement opening the March board session to see if he would follow up on his hard-hitting Iran report issued last week.

In that document, Amano — who took the post in December — expressed concern that Iran may be working on making a nuclear warhead, suggesting for the first time that Teheran had either resumed such work or never stopped at the time US intelligence thought it did.

The Japanese diplomat was more circumspect in his comments Monday, devoting only four paragraphs to Iran in eight pages of comments. His assessment that the agency "cannot confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities" was notably less forceful than the central finding of his report.

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