Thursday, June 05, 2008

Iran: "The matter is over"

VIENNA-Thu Jun 5, 2008-(Reuters) -

Iran said on Thursday it had given U.N. investigators more than 200 pages of answers to questions about intelligence reports that it secretly researched how to make atom bombs and declared "the matter is over".

But Iran's envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency said Tehran would heed any requests for clarification after the IAEA chief demanded "full disclosure", a call broadly endorsed by a 35-nation agency Board of Governors meeting this week.
"We gave more than 200 pages of explanations and documents to the agency on May 23. We left no question unanswered. We have done our job. This matter is over," Iranian Ambassador Ali Asghar Soltanieh said as the four-day meeting ended.

But, he told reporters: "Some of them ... are under evaluation and assessment (by the) agency ... If they have any questions we will answer them. The trend of removing the ambiguities will continue. This is our policy."

Western powers suspect Iran wants to divert nuclear energy into building atomic bombs. Iran, an oil-producing giant, says its uranium enrichment program is only for electricity generation so it can export more crude.
But it is under U.N. sanctions for hiding nuclear work from the IAEA in the past, leaving the agency incapable of verifying the nature of the program by limiting inspections, and refusing to suspend enrichment in exchange for trade benefits.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog has been pressing Iran for some time for answers on mainly Western intelligence allegations that it covertly studied how to design a nuclear weapon.
Iran has dismissed the intelligence, which diplomats say was provided by around 10 nations although mainly the United States, as baseless, forged or irrelevant. But IAEA officials say Iran has yet to corroborate its denials with credible evidence.
A May 26 IAEA report said Iran seemed to be withholding information needed to explain indications that it linked programs to process uranium, test high explosives and modify a missile cone in a way suitable for a nuclear warhead.
Soltanieh heaped derision on the documentation, much of which came from a laptop spirited out of Iran by a defector. He said the papers were not stamped "classified" and lacked the official letterhead of Tehran's defense ministry.
"Can you imagine any country engaging in military nuclear activities without classifying the (documentation) as confidential or top secret?" he said.
He reaffirmed Iran's vow never to abandon its right to atomic energy for development but also pledged the program would remain under IAEA monitoring, which he said discredited suspicions that Iran sought nuclear firepower.
Gregory Schulte, U.S. ambassador to the IAEA, held out little hope of a breakthrough with Iran this year.
"Whoever (the next U.S. president) steps into the White House on January 21 is going to face this problem," he said.


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