IAEA, Iran spar over military aspect of nuclear program

UN nuclear watchdog shows letters, satellite images suggesting weaponization; Tehran's envoy dismisses evidence as "lousy."

By REUTERS
November 11, 2011 22:16
1 minute read.
Suspected uranium-enrichment facility near Qom

Iranian nuclear program 311 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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VIENNA - The UN nuclear watchdog showed letters and satellite images on Friday as part of evidence pointing to military dimensions to Iran's atomic activities, diplomats said, but Tehran's envoy dismissed it as "lousy" intelligence work.

Herman Nackaerts, head of nuclear inspections worldwide at the International Atomic Energy Agency, made an hour-long technical presentation of the IAEA's latest report on Iran's nuclear program at a closed-door meeting for member states.

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The hotly anticipated document, released last Tuesday, said Iran appeared to have worked on designing an atomic bomb and that secret research may continue. It was the most detailed IAEA report to date on the issue.

At Friday's briefing, participants said Nackaerts displayed procurement-related correspondence involving Iranian officials as well as satellite images of the Parchin military site southeast of Tehran.

The IAEA report, based on what the agency called "credible" information, indicated that Iran had built a large explosives vessel there to conduct hydrodynamic experiments, which are "strong indicators of possible weapon development".

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Diplomats said Nackaerts also highlighted which information in the report was new, apparently to counter criticism from Iran that the report only contained old allegations.

Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran's ambassador to the IAEA, said there were no nuclear-related activities at Parchin.

"There is no proof that Iranian activities are towards military purposes," he told reporters after the briefing.

"We do have conventional activities (at Parchin) and this has nothing to do with nuclear."

Saying the report had damaged the UN agency's credibility, Soltanieh added in English: "This kind of lousy job of intelligence created problems for all member states."

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