Iran Nuclear NewsIAEA demands 'full disclosure' from Iran, sends team to...

IAEA demands ‘full disclosure’ from Iran, sends team to Syria

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ImageAFP: UN atomic watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei on Monday urged "full disclosure" from Iran over its nuclear programme and said he was sending experts to Syria to probe allegations of a secret nuclear reactor.

ImageVIENNA (AFP) — UN atomic watchdog chief Mohamed ElBaradei on Monday urged "full disclosure" from Iran over its nuclear programme and said he was sending experts to Syria to probe allegations of a secret nuclear reactor.

In his opening address to the summer meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency's 35-member board of governors, ElBaradei said it was time for Tehran to come clean over its past and present nuclear activities — particularly allegations that it hid key information about weaponisation.

Noting that the IAEA had spent the past five years seeking to verify Iran's nuclear ambitions, ElBaradei said time was running out.

"While substantial progress has been made … it is essential that the agency be able to reach a conclusion regarding the nature of Iran's programme at the earliest possible date," he said.

"This depends primarily on Iran demonstrating the necessary transparency and providing full disclosure. I again urge them to be fully forthcoming in this regard".

ElBaradei also announced that UN inspectors would visit Syria from June 22-24 to investigate allegations that Damascus was building an undeclared nuclear reactor until it was destroyed in an Israeli air raid last September.

"I look forward to Syria's full cooperation in this matter," he said.

ElBaradei criticised Israel for attacking the site before the IAEA had a chance to inspect it, and the United States for waiting until April to pass on intelligence suggesting that the reactor had a military purpose and was built with North Korea's help.

"It is deeply regrettable that information concerning the installation was not provided to the agency in a timely manner and that force was resorted to unilaterally before the agency was given an opportunity to establish the facts," he said.

The US intelligence included photographs taken inside the reactor showing construction of the shield for the reactor core, and control rods and refueling ports on top of the reactor.

The reactor and the building that housed it were similar in design to the North Korean reactor at Yongbyon, which produces plutonium, the US officials said.

Damascus immediately rejected the allegations as "ridiculous".

ElBaradei reminded board members that the IAEA was the competent authority to investigate allegations that any country signed up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty might be involved in illicit nuclear activities.

He also stressed that Syria had "an obligation" to report the planning and construction of any nuclear facility to the IAEA.

"We are therefore treating this information with the seriousness it deserves," he said.

In his latest report on Iran, circulated to the IAEA board last week, ElBaradei said Tehran could be hiding key information about weaponisation work, as well as defying UN demands to suspend uranium enrichment.

Iran insists its atomic programme is entirely peaceful, but western countries, and the United States in particular, are convinced the Islamic republic is covertly seeking to build a nuclear bomb.

ElBaradei told Monday's meeting it was "regrettable that we have not made the progress we had hoped for with respect to one remaining major issue, namely clarification of the cluster of allegations and the secretariat's questions relevant to possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme."

The United States, France, Britain, Russia and China and Germany have drafted a "refreshed" package of incentives to persuade Tehran to suspend its enrichment activities.

But Iran insists that it has an inalienable right to enrich and has pressed ahead with its attempt to master the technology.

According to intelligence gathered by 10 different countries and passed on to the IAEA, Iran had been carrying out weaponisation studies until just a few years ago.

Iran has repeatedly dismissed the intelligence as fabricated.

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