Iran Nuclear NewsIran refuses to give more details on weapons programme

Iran refuses to give more details on weapons programme

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ImageAFP: Iran, under heavy fire at a meeting of the UN atomic watchdog here for failing to come clean on alleged nuclear weapons work, has told the IAEA that the matter is "over", Iranian ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh said Thursday.

ImageVIENNA (AFP) — Iran, under heavy fire at a meeting of the UN atomic watchdog here for failing to come clean on alleged nuclear weapons work, has told the IAEA that the matter is "over", Iranian ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh said Thursday.

"We have given comprehensive responses, information and documents," Soltanieh told journalists after addressing the 35-member board of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"We have done our job. The matter is over," he said.

Iran's contested atomic drive has dominated the four-day board meeting, which ended here Thursday, after agency chief Mohamed ElBaradei complained in his latest report that the Islamic republic was withholding key information that could shed light on the so-called alleged studies.

These include nuclear research, engineering work and testing carried out until a few years ago that may have had a possible military dimension.

Iran claims that the allegations are "baseless" and the intelligence used to back up those allegations "forged" and "fabricated".

But the IAEA and Western countries insist that Tehran actively disprove the allegations rather than simply dismiss them as untrue.

And in his opening address to the board on Monday, ElBaradei urged Iran to provide "full disclosure" on the matter.

Soltanieh denied that Iran had done no more than reject the allegations.

Six meetings had taken place between IAEA inspectors and the Iranian authorities in the run-up to ElBaradei's previous report in March. There had been 70 hours of discussions and Iran had turned over 200 pages of documents that disproved the allegations, Soltanieh said.

In addition, Iran had summarised its arguments in 30 pages of documents, including confidential information, that Soltanieh distributed to IAEA governors on Thursday, he said.

"We have answered every question. We have left no question answered," Soltanieh said.

He again dismissed the allegations as fake.

"The authenticity is the question. Quite simply the whole allegations are baseless. Nobody needs to prove it," Soltanieh said.

One Western diplomat, who attended the meeting, dismissed the distribution of the 30 pages of documentation as a "publicity stunt."

"Iran needs to provide IAEA with substantive answers," the diplomat said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The US ambassador to the IAEA, Gregory Schulte, agreed.

"My feeling is that my Iranian colleague is dancing around a little bit trying to escape the spotlight," Schulte told journalists after the four-day meeting had come to an end.

"But in the board room, the question is why won't you give substantive explanations about this rather than just trying to dismiss it."

It has not been only Western countries, however, that have called on Iran to respond to the weaponisation allegations.

The so-called Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), a bloc of countries including Cuba, India and South Africa that are normally supportive of Iran said the IAEA was right to be asking such questions.

"NAM believes that in clarifying the alleged studies, including the issues such as high explosive testing and missile re-entry vehicle, the Agency would act in accordance with its statute," NAM chairwoman Norma Goichochea-Estenoz told the board.

South African Ambassador Abdul Samad Minty in a separate statement expressed concern that "after so many years of verification activities in Iran, the agency is still not in a position to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran and that the agency is not yet in a position to determine the full nature of Iran's nuclear programme."

South Africa "considers it important that Iran intensify its cooperation with the agency and provide the clarifications as requested by the agency," Minty said.

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