IAEA: Iran cooperative on some aspects of nuclear program

In light of the report, US, UK demand further sanctions, while Iran says it has been vindicated by the UN watchdog.

Iran Nuclear 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Iran Nuclear 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
A report from the UN nuclear watchdog agency on Thursday found Iran to be generally truthful about key aspects of its nuclear history, but warned that its knowledge of Teheran's present atomic work was shrinking. The International Atomic Energy Agency report also confirmed that Teheran continued to defy the UN Security Council by ignoring its repeated demands to freeze uranium enrichment - a potential pathway to nuclear arms. A senior UN diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity because the report was confidential, described it as "a glass half-full or half-empty." Following the report's publication, Army Radio quoted Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who expressed his satisfaction with the report, saying that it was proof that his country was being truthful with regards to its nuclear program. However, European and White House officials stated that they were unsatisfied by the report's implications, stressing that they would continue pushing for further sanctions against Iran. "We believe that selective cooperation is not good enough," White House press secretary Dana Perino said, adding the report indicated that Iran has not suspended its enrichment-related activities and that it continues to defy the international community. "Iran continues to walk away from a deal that has been offered to them. We said they can have a civil nuclear program if they'll just suspend their current activities," she said. Reflecting that stance, Britain's Foreign Office said in a statement issued shortly after the report that, "as the IAEA report now shows that Iran has still not addressed several issues about its nuclear program, we will pursue further Security Council and EU sanctions." "If Iran wants to restore trust in its program it must come clean on all outstanding issues without delay," the statement said. It also said Teheran must restore broader and stronger inspection rights to IAEA teams and mothball its enrichment activities to avoid such penalties. Iranian top nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili said that the report proved accusations that Iran was pursuing nuclear weapons were baseless and that new sanctions against the country would be wrong. Jalili said Teheran has answered all the questions by the International Atomic Energy Agency and made "good progress" in cooperating with it. In light of the IAEA report, "many accusations are now baseless," Jalili said, referring to US claims that Teheran was seeking to build nuclear weapons. "Those powers who base their accusations on this I hope will reconsider what they say." "We have kept our promise ... Iran has responded to all the questions by the (UN) agency and has made good progress in the case," said Jalili, speaking to reporters in Teheran. Jalili insisted Iran has an irrefutable right to its nuclear program. "Iran has shown it is working within the framework of the law but at the same time, we want our (nuclear) rights," Jalili said. "We have done everything to have a peaceful nuclear program." The Iranian official said past referrals of Iran's case to the UN Security Council were "futile" and said a new, third round of sanctions would amount to "illegal action." If new UN sanctions are approved, "you should be asking what is the logic in this," Jalili told reporters. He said the IAEA report listed a "number of articles that refer to Iran's cooperation with the agency" and that this shows claims of nuclear material being used for a military program have been false. Jalili insisted Iran was enthusiastic about continuing talks with the IAEA, which he said now has "complete supervision" of Iran's uranium enrichment program. Much of the 10 page-report made available to The Associated Press focused on the history of Iran's black-market procurements and past development of its enrichment technology - and the agency appeared to be giving Teheran a pass on that issue, repeatedly saying it concludes that "Iran's statements are consistent with ... information available to the agency." At the same time, a second senior UN official said that this did not mean that the agency's investigation into past enrichment activities was "closed," even though a work plan between the agency and Teheran set November as the deadline for clearing up the issue. "One day you might find something that distorts the picture and may (need to) return" to the investigations, he said. And he acknowledged that the agency remained blind-sided on Iran's present work with new and more modern enrichment technologies that would allow it to enrich uranium at far greater speed and volume than with the outmoded machines the agency is monitoring.