AP: A new report by the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog raises “very troubling questions” about Iran’s engagement in weapons production and will open a new page in the probe into Tehran’s alleged activities, a senior U.S. official said Thursday. The Associated Press
By VERONIKA OLEKSYN
VIENNA, Austria (AP) A new report by the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog raises “very troubling questions” about Iran’s engagement in weapons production and will open a new page in the probe into Tehran’s alleged activities, a senior U.S. official said Thursday.
The International Atomic Energy Agency released a report last week saying that suspicions about most past Iranian nuclear activities had eased. But it also pointed to Tehran’s continuing efforts to enrich uranium.
It called weaponization “the one major … unsolved issue relevant to the nature of Iran’s nuclear program.”
In an interview with Associated Press Television News, Gregory L. Schulte, the top U.S. delegate to the IAEA, said the report will “open a whole new page in our investigation because it raises very troubling questions about Iran’s engagement in weaponization activities.”
“How do you take highly enriched uranium and actually fashion it into a weapon and put it on a delivery system,” Schulte said.
Iran says the IAEA suspicions about weaponization are groundless, and that any evidence suggesting they were making nuclear arms are forgeries.
Although uranium enrichment can be used to make material for nuclear warheads, Iran maintains its program is used to produce electricity. The U.S., the European Union and others suspect its real aim is to produce weapons.
Schulte made his comments ahead of an IAEA Board of Governor’s meeting that kicks off in Vienna on Monday. The recently released report will form the basis of the discussions.
“The weaponization questions have been there for several years now,” Schulte said, adding that he and other diplomats received a technical briefing from the IAEA on Monday that laid out the extent of information the agency has been able to develop over the past several years from multiple sources.
“For the last several years, they’ve asked the Iranians to explain this, but unfortunately they have refused to do that,” Schulte said.
Diplomats said the documentation suggests Iran may have focused on a nuclear weapons program past 2003 the year U.S. intelligence says such work stopped.
Schulte called on Iran to give IAEA inspectors full access instead of speaking of “baseless accusations.”
“I think what we all expect them to do is basically open their books and open their facilities,” Schulte said. “Let them into the places where this work is being done, let them interview the people involved.”
In other comments, Schulte said the U.S. hoped the U.N. Security Council will move “relatively quickly” to adopt a third sanctions resolution and that a “major” package of incentives for Iran dating back to June 2006 was “still there.”