IAEA can't confirm Iran nuke program is peaceful

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Vienna (Austria), Mar. 2 (ANI): The UN nuclear watchdog, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has said it can't guarantee that the Iran nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes.

Citing insufficient cooperation from Tehran, the IAEA said Iran could be working on a nuclear warhead.

According to the Christian Science Monitor (CSM), the IAEA assessment comes as Iran continues to step up uranium enrichment levels and expanding its nuclear fuel cycle plans.

"The agency continues...to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material in Iran, but we cannot confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities because Iran has not provided the agency with the necessary cooperation," Yukiya Amano, the new IAEA chief, told the agency's governing board at the start of its meeting in Vienna this week.

Amano asked for "clarification of issues related to possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program," and that Iran make "full implementation of its safeguards agreement and its other obligations [a] matter of high priority."

The tougher IAEA line comes as momentum builds in Washington to impose more sanctions upon Iran - a "pressure track" to add to three sets of UN Security Council sanctions and an array of US and European measures that already target Iran.

"The pressure track does not mean that the engagement track is closed," Glyn Davies, the US Ambassador to the IAEA, said in a recent Monitor interview in Istanbul.

"But we are looking for Iranian bona fides. There is such an overhang of issues, it would require a significant change by [the] Iranians," she added.

The recent back-and-forth with Iran over its nuclear program "has been maximally frustrating" because of the mixed messages from Tehran, said Davies.

On Monday, Iran took issue with Amano's remarks.

"We have fully cooperated with the agency. This cooperation will continue," said Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki.

Analysts expect this week's meeting of the IAEA's governing board to pave the way for a tougher, fourth set of UN sanctions against Iran as it tussles with the IAEA over unresolved issues that point to a weaponization effort, but are based on US and Western intelligence that Iran says is fabricated.

Efforts by the Obama Administration to engage Tehran in 2009 were set back in part by the violence and political paralysis that have consumed Iran in the aftermath of disputed presidential elections last June.

Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, initially agreed to the deal in Geneva last October, but was quickly scorned by opposition figures who charged that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was giving away the "fruit" of Iran's nuclear scientists.

While Amano said on Monday that the deal "remains on the table" and the Iranians have come back with several compromise options that would avoid a single mass exodus of LEU and a swap on its territory, Tehran has continued to enrich uranium to a point where the overall percentage that would leave Iran in the original deal makes what Amano called the "confidence building" aspect less significant.

Iran insists that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, though the United States and European capitals suspect that it masks a nuclear weapons program.

All Iran's current enrichment is in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions that require it stop the work until Iran clarifies outstanding issues about possible weaponization. (ANI)

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