Iran Nuclear NewsNuclear watchdog gets China's Iran intel

Nuclear watchdog gets China’s Iran intel

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AP: China has recently given the International Atomic Energy Agency intelligence about Iran’s nuclear program despite Beijing’s opposition to harsh U.N. Security Council sanctions on Tehran, according to diplomats familiar with the matter. The Associated Press

By GEORGE JAHN

VIENNA, Austria (AP) — China has recently given the International Atomic Energy Agency intelligence about Iran’s nuclear program despite Beijing’s opposition to harsh U.N. Security Council sanctions on Tehran, according to diplomats familiar with the matter.

China and Russia have acted as a brake within the Security Council, consistently watering down a U.S.-led push to impose severe penalties on Tehran 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 alleged 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.

The new development was revealed to The Associated Press by two senior diplomats who closely follow the IAEA probe of Iran’s nuclear program.

The IAEA declined comment and no one answered the phone Wednesday at either the Chinese or Iranian missions to the IAEA.

The diplomats said Beijing was the most surprising entry in a substantial list of nations that have recently forwarded information that could be relevant in attempts to probe past or present nuclear weapons research by Iran.

The diplomats — who demanded anonymity because their information was confidential — attributed a generally increased flow of information to the U.N. nuclear watchdog to concern sparked by a February multimedia presentation by the agency to its 35 IAEA board members, which described intelligence previously forwarded by member states on Iran’s alleged clandestine nuclear arms program.

One of the diplomats said the agency was 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.

Suspected weapons-related work outlined in the February presentation and IAEA reports preceding it include:

_ Uranium conversion linked to high explosives testing and designs of a missile re-entry vehicle, all apparently interconnected through involvement of officials and institutions

_ Procurement of so-called “dual use” equipment and experiments that also could be used in both civilian and military nuclear programs, and

_ Iran’s possession of a 15-page document outlining how to form uranium metal into the shape of a warhead.

A U.S. intelligence estimate late last year said Tehran worked on nuclear weapons programs until 2003, while Israel and other nations say such work continued past that date.

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