VIENNA — The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency singled out Iran for the first time Monday as a "special case" because of suspicions it may be trying to make nuclear weapons.
The statement by IAEA chief Yukiya Amano at the start of the agency's 35-nation board meeting reflected international concern about Iran's nuclear agenda, days before the U.N. Security Council is expected to punish Teheran for its refusal to heed demands to curb its activities. It also was in keeping with the generally tougher line taken by Amano on Iran compared to his predecessor, Mohamed ElBaradei, who was occasionally criticized by the US and other Western nations for his perceived reluctance to take Iran to task.
Iran is stonewalling IAEA attempts to follow up on intelligence from the US and other nations that suggests Tehran has hidden nuclear weapons experiments from the world. The planned fourth set of U.N. sanctions reflects concerns about such programs, plus Teheran's refusal to freeze uranium enrichment. Iran says it wants to develop enriched uranium as a fuel source, but it can also be used to make nuclear warheads.