AP: Iran’s willingness to answer questions about its nuclear program will not save it from new U.N. sanctions, a U.S. envoy said Wednesday, describing Tehran’s new openness as an attempt to deflect “attention from its … bomb-making capabilities.” Associated Press
By GEORGE JAHN
Associated Press Writer
VIENNA, Austria (AP) – Iran’s willingness to answer questions about its nuclear program will not save it from new U.N. sanctions, a U.S. envoy said Wednesday, describing Tehran’s new openness as an attempt to deflect “attention from its … bomb-making capabilities.”
The remark by Gregory L. Schulte, chief U.S. delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency, drew criticism from some diplomats, who suggested that Washington was trying to derail important progress in the Iranian nuclear negotiations in its drive to impose new U.N. penalties.
The IAEA’s 35-nation board will meet next month to discuss Iran, and the conflicting views suggest the meeting could see Washington and its closest allies clash with countries less hawkish on Iran.
Iran and the Vienna-based IAEA – the U.N. nuclear watchdog – said Tuesday they had agreed on a timetable for Tehran to respond to lingering questions over its controversial nuclear activities.
In response to the announcement, Schulte accused Tehran of “clearly trying to take the attention from its continued development of bomb-making capabilities.”
“I don’t think the (U.N.) Security Council will be distracted,” Schulte said. “We are continuing to move forward with other members of the Security Council on a third resolution.”
“If Iran’s leaders truly want the world’s trust, they would … start to cooperate fully and unconditionally and suspend activities of international concern,” Schulte said, alluding to council demands that Tehran freeze its uranium enrichment program and stop construction of a plutonium-producing reactor.
“These activities are not necessary for peaceful purposes, but are necessary to build a bomb,” he said.
Iranian and IAEA officials did not say Tuesday whether Tehran was ready to answer all outstanding questions about its nuclear program. But Schulte suggested it was not.
“We understand there are real limitations with the plan,” he said, including Iran’s refusal to implement an agreement allowing IAEA inspectors broad powers to conduct inspections of suspicious sites on short notice.
In Washington, State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos said the United States believed the council “must move forward as soon as possible with additional sanctions.”
Two diplomats and a U.N. official familiar with the Iran-IAEA timetable disagreed, however, saying substantial progress was being made in lifting the veil of Iran’s nuclear secrecy. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the issue with the media.
“This appears to be a deliberate (U.S.) campaign to derail the process,” said one of the diplomats. “It is dangerous to dismiss it before even having seen the details.”
In Azerbaijan, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad also demanded that other countries respect its right to produce atomic energy and said nothing had been achieved by trying to stop its program – criticisms apparently directed at the United States.
“Our aim in developing nuclear technology is the improvement of the well-being and living standards of our people,” Ahmadinejad said during a visit to the former Soviet republic.
Without naming any nations, he said “certain forces … want to deprive our people of this right. They resort to any methods – economic, psychological and military pressure. But despite this, they have achieved nothing. Iran has legally created nuclear technology.”
Iran has refused to answer questions about secret plutonium experiments in the mid-1990s and IAEA findings that Iran has not accounted for all the plutonium it has said it possessed. IAEA experts also want to know more about unexplained traces of plutonium and enriched uranium found last year at a nuclear waste facility, and about the so-called Green Salt Project.
Diplomats told The Associated Press last year that the agency was trying to follow up on U.S. intelligence that described the project as linking uranium enrichment-related experiments to nuclear-related high explosives and warhead design.
Iran dismissed that intelligence as “based on false and fabricated documents.”
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