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Archive for Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Report: Iran forging ahead on enrichment

February 28, 2006

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— Iran has done next to nothing to respond to international demands to halt its uranium enrichment program and provide information about its nuclear activities, according to a confidential report by the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The report, which is expected to be sent to the U.N. Security Council in two weeks for debate over possible sanctions, stops short of an outright condemnation of Tehran's activities. But it raises grave doubts about the intent of Iran's nuclear program, and says the agency cannot rule out that Tehran may be breaching the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

The report, by the agency's director general, Mohamed ElBaradei, a copy of which was obtained by the Los Angeles Times, stopped short of saying that Iran's aims might not be peaceful, which would have been an extremely serious finding. Instead, it said Iran's failure to provide requested information meant that the agency could not say that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities.

However, in Iran's favor, ElBaradei's report also found no evidence that nuclear material had been diverted toward building a weapon.

The report, submitted Monday to the atomic agency's governing board, also noted that Iran had failed to take any of the steps demanded by the board at its meeting earlier this month.

To the contrary, Iran is testing a series of 20 centrifuges, a process essential to developing a full-scale capacity to enrich uranium.

"They were asked to suspend all enrichment activities, they started small scale research and development; they were asked to ratify and implement the additional protocol, they suspended it; they were asked to take transparency measures," said a senior official familiar with the IAEA's Iran probe.

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