Israel: 'Iran buying time for nuclear weapons'

Iranian PM wants Western appology after IAEA report released; Russia says it will ship nuclear fuel to Iran.

ElBaradei IAEA 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
ElBaradei IAEA 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
The IAEA's report on Iran's nuclear activities released Thursday makes it clear that the international community must take firm action against Iran, because that nation continues to buck UN demands and develop its nuclear program, Israel said Friday. The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the IAEA acknowledged in its report that Iran might not have reported all of its nuclear activities, increasing suspicion that Iran was trying to "buy time" on its way to nuclear weapons capability. On Thursday, the long-awaited report 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 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. Meanwhile, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called on the West to make a courageous apology to the Iranian people, since Teheran has told the truth about its nuclear program. In a message broadcast Friday on several Iranian media outlets, Ahmadinejad declared that "the time has come for the US government to correct its behavior," telling state television, "The whole world saw that their (US) allegations were not true and that Iran's activities are clean and peaceful." "You (the US and allies) issued two resolutions based on wrong information," the hard-line president said, referring to two earlier rounds of UN sanctions. "Now that you have found out that this information was wrong, you have to be brave and come forward and tell the Iranian nation, 'We made a mistake' and apologize," he said. Ahmadinejad called the said the IAEA report "relatively realistic," and praised IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei for publishing findings that are "to a great extent free from the pressure of some big powers." Leading Iranian cleric Ahmad Khatami also criticized the West, and demanded that the United States apologize to Iran. "Iran won't retreat in defending its rights. The US must apologize to the great Iranian nation for lying to the world," Khatami said. Meanwhile, Russia's state-run nuclear fuel producer said Friday it would soon start shipping fuel to Russia's Bushehr nuclear reactor. According to Reuters, inspectors from the IAEA will arrive at the Novosibirsk Chemical Concentrate Plant to begin sealing the fuel for shipment later this month, and will be working through November 29. "We are ready to provide IAEA specialists with all the conditions they need to do their work," Konstantin Grabelnikov, Novosibirsk deputy head, said in a statement Also on Friday, Britain's Foreign Office said that talks planned for next week to discuss hardening sanctions over Iran's nuclear program have been postponed, and officials were trying to set a new date. A European Union official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Chinese could not attend due to scheduling problems. China, along with Russia, is opposed to a hardening of sanctions against Teheran. "Negotiations will be taking place over the next few days" to set a new date for a meeting, said a Foreign Office spokesman, on condition of anonymity in line with policy. Talks between political directors of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany were planned for Monday, and had been expected to take place in Brussels. Russia's Itar-Tass news agency reported the meeting had been postponed because China had refused to attend. China's London embassy was not immediately available to comment on Friday. Yaakov Katz contributed to this report.