Beijing turns over Iranian nuclear info

China one of many states formerly against tougher sanctions, now showing more cooperation with IAEA.

Iran 224 (photo credit: AP)
Iran 224
(photo credit: AP)
China, an opponent of harsh UN Security Council sanctions against Iran, has nonetheless provided the International Atomic Energy Agency recently with intelligence linked to Teheran's alleged attempts to make nuclear arms, diplomats have told The Associated Press. Beijing, along with Moscow, has acted as a brake within the council, consistently watering down a US-led push to impose severe penalties on Teheran for its nuclear defiance since the first set of sanctions was passed in late 2006. A Chinese decision to provide information for use in the agency's attempts to probe Iran's purported nuclear weapons program would appear to reflect growing international unease about how honest the Islamic republic has been in denying it ever tried to make such arms. China's venture was revealed by two senior diplomats with good contacts to the IAEA, with one commenting late last week and the other Wednesday. The IAEA declined comment. The diplomats said Beijing was the most surprising entry among a fairly substantial list of nations recently forwarding information to the agency that adds to previously provided intelligence, and which could be relevant in attempts to probe Iran for past or present nuclear weapons research. But they said several other countries not normally considered to be in the anti-Iran camp had also done so in recent weeks. The diplomats - who demanded anonymity because their information was confidential - declined to name individual nations. But they attributed a generally increased flow of information to UN nuclear watchdog to concern sparked by a multimedia presentation to the 35 IAEA board members by the agency in February of intelligence previously forwarded by member states on Iran's alleged clandestine nuclear arms program. One of the diplomats said the agency was also on the lookout for misleading information provided it, either inadvertently or in attempts to falsely implicate Iran. One example, he said was a document showing experiments with implosion technology that can be used to detonate a nuclear device. While the document appeared genuine, it was unclear whether it originated from Iran, said the diplomat. A US intelligence estimate late last year said Teheran worked on nuclear weapons programs until 2003, while Israel and other nations say such work continued past that date.