Iran Nuclear NewsU.S. Criticizes UN Nuclear Watchdog Over Iran Program

U.S. Criticizes UN Nuclear Watchdog Over Iran Program

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Bloomberg: The U.S criticized the United Nations nuclear watchdog today over its ability to assure the world that Iran is using atomic technology for peaceful means. “The IAEA is still not able to provide assurances that Iran is not pursuing clandestine activities at undeclared locations as it has been doing for years,” U.S. Ambassador Jackie Sanders said today in a statement to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s … Bloomberg

The U.S criticized the United Nations nuclear watchdog today over its ability to assure the world that Iran is using atomic technology for peaceful means.

“The IAEA is still not able to provide assurances that Iran is not pursuing clandestine activities at undeclared locations as it has been doing for years,” U.S. Ambassador Jackie Sanders said today in a statement to the International Atomic Energy Agency’s board of governors in Vienna.

The U.S. accused Iran of “attempts to hide and mislead” the international community about its nuclear program. The Islamic nation told IAEA inspectors this week that they couldn’t make additional visits to its Parchin military complex. Diplomats are concerned Iran hasn’t fulfilled a pledge to halt uranium processing and is building tunnels near a uranium mine.

Iran also criticized the IAEA, saying leaks to the media compromise the security of Iranian facilities as the country faces possible U.S. military strikes. The Islamic republic said the leaks also jeopardize its relationship with the UN agency.

“When sensitive areas are visited, information that becomes available to the agency can be available to others that may not have the best of intentions,” said Cyrus Nasseri, head of Iran’s delegation to the IAEA. “Notions of threats of attacks against Iran’s safeguarded and other facilities are still there.”

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei saidt countries are entitled to “different views” of the agency’s work. He also encouraged Iran to fully cooperate with the inspections.

“This is a program that has been clandestine for almost two decades,” ElBaradei said today at a press conference. “Iran needs to go out of their way and not to just play by the book but be more transparent.”

EU Negotiations

The European Union is negotiating with Iran over ways to curtail its nuclear ambitions in exchange for possible trade privileges. Iran, which has the world’s second-largest oil reserves, said that its ability to enrich uranium is essential to its electricity-generating program and isn’t negotiable. Uranium also may be used in a nuclear weapon.

The U.S. has called for Iran to be brought before the UN Security Council in New York for possible sanctions.

“We regret that Iran failed to report in a timely manner the excavation of tunnels,” the French, German and U.K. delegations to the IAEA, which are leading the EU negotiating effort, said in a statement to the IAEA board. “While transparency visits have taken place, Iran seems to have been determined to limit their scope.”

March 12 Talks

The EU and Iran said they remain committed to negotiations. The next set of monthly talks between the two sides are scheduled for March 12.

Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said yesterday that Iran is now a powerful country because of its access to nuclear technology, according to the state-run Islamic Republic News Agency. Iran will never allow itself to be deprived of its right to peaceful nuclear technology, Kharrazi said in Tehran.

U.S. President George W. Bush, after talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Slovakia last week, said he may consider dropping his resistance to providing economic incentives to win Iran’s compliance. The U.S. has blocked Iran’s bid for membership of the World Trade Organization 20 times since 2001 and maintains a ban on trade with the country.

The so-called Non-Aligned Movement of nations, representing 13 of the 35 seats on the IAEA’s board, said it was satisfied with agency’s progress in Iran. Any U.S. attempt to send Iran to the Security Council requires a majority vote by the IAEA’s board.

Inspection Unhindered

“The agency’s inspection activities appear to be unhindered and is working smoothly as a routine safeguards matter,” Malaysian Ambassador Rajmah Hussain told the IAEA’s board. Malaysia heads the Non-Aligned Movement, which was founded in the 1960s.

The Non-Aligned Movement’s members on the IAEA board come from Cuba, Egypt, India, Nigeria, Tunisia, Vietnam, Panama, Peru, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Sudan, Malaysia and Pakistan.

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