Bloomberg: Iran's cooperation with atomic inspectors over a cache of alleged documents showing the Persian Gulf country sought to make a nuclear weapon was a mistake and will be limited in the future, an Iranian diplomat said.
By Jonathan Tirone
Sept. 24 (Bloomberg) — Iran's cooperation with atomic inspectors over a cache of alleged documents showing the Persian Gulf country sought to make a nuclear weapon was a mistake and will be limited in the future, an Iranian diplomat said.
"I'm sorry to say that Iran has been too good, too transparent and too cooperative," Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Tehran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, told reporters today in Vienna. The country will continue standard inspections of its Natanz uranium enrichment site, he said.
The U.S. and several major allies, who accuse Iran of using its nuclear program as cover for developing a weapon, are pressing for a fourth round of United Nations sanctions against the country. Iran has refused UN demands to halt its work on enriching uranium, which can be used to fuel a power station or form the core of a bomb.
The government in Tehran says U.S. intelligence agencies forged the documents outlining the weapons studies and that they don't merit a response. Soltanieh indicated Iran will limit future cooperation on the issue, saying the country will review the allegations when they have access to the original documents and "inform the agency of its assessment and nothing more."
The IAEA's 35-member board of governors is meeting for a third day in the Austrian capital, where the UN body is based. Inspectors criticized Iran in a Sept. 15 report to the UN Security Council for not answering questions about the nature of its nuclear research.
IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei this week urged the U.S. and its allies to share the collection of documents with Iran.
Iran has met seven times with IAEA inspectors in an attempt to explain the alleged weapons documents, Soltanieh said. The IAEA showed around 100 pages of PowerPoint slides outlining the evidence, Soltanieh said.
"There were a tremendous amount of inconsistencies," said Soltanieh, such as incorrect dates and ranks of people involved in the correspondence presented as evidence.
Iran hasn't been allowed to see or have copies of all of the original documents containing allegations it's modifying missiles to carry nuclear warheads, Soltanieh said.
France, speaking on behalf of the European Union, "deplored" Iran's disregard of Security Council orders that it suspend its nuclear work and warned the IAEA not to pull back from its five years of inspections, according to a five-page statement distributed today in Vienna.
"We cannot afford to let ourselves be slowly immunized because, as it has gone on so long, the situation seems less serious or in any case less urgent," the statement said. "Collected information leads us to think that Iran has methodically pursued a program to acquire nuclear arms."
IAEA members have given inspectors intelligence on Iranian weapons efforts from multiple sources over different periods of time that is "detailed in content and appears to be generally consistent," according to a May 26 agency report.
Iran "refuses to engage the IAEA on substance" and is "clearly stonewalling the agency's investigation," U.S. ambassador envoy Gregory Schulte said today in speech to the IAEA's board of governors.
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, in a speech to the UN General Assembly and a one-hour news conference, said yesterday Iran won't yield to U.S. "bullying" and will move forward with what he said is the peaceful development of nuclear energy.
He said any U.S. or Israeli attack on the nuclear facilities of Iran, which holds the world's second-biggest oil and natural gas reserves, would be repelled.