VIENNA, 17 June (IPS) Officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) acknowledged Thursday a “mistake” with Iranian reporting the purchase of a certain number of magnets, but at the same time said it would not change the gross shortcomings they face with Iran’s controversial nuclear activities.
Mr. Pierre Goldschmidt, the IAEA Deputy General Director said the agency acknowledged that it failed to take notice of the statement about magnet imports but said that Iran had since claimed it was only working with Iranian-made equipment.
"The information provided by Iran has lacked the necessary clarity to allow the Agency to fully understand the details of the P-2 program", he said, as the Mr. Hoseyn Mousavain, the spokesman of Iran’s delegation at IAEA had announced that the last draft resolution put forward to the Agency’s Board of Governors was “unacceptable for Iran".
The information provided by Iran has lacked the necessary clarity to allow the Agency to fully understand the details of the P-2 program
According to senior IAEA officials, a private Iranian citizen interviewed in January had spoken of importing magnets for advanced P-2 centrifuges, but his statement had not been mentioned since it was made during an interview and in a bad English.
Earlier in the week, sources at the Vienna-based IAEA had claimed that Iran sought to purchase some 20.000 units of magnets that are used in centrifuges for enriching uranium.
But Iran’s senior delegate, Mr. Mousavian, who is in charge of the International Department of Iran’s Supreme Council on National Security, had corrected the information, saying not the government, but an intermediary had purchased 150 magnets for 300 US Dollars only.
IAEA’s Head Mohammad ElBarade’i said the omission in the June report was "technical".
“This is not a major mistake. Iran could have corrected it. The Resolution would reflect the mistake but this technical correction doesn't change the fact that we need more transparency from Iran", he added.
For his part, the US Ambassador to the IAEA, Kenneth Brill, accused Iran of diversionary tactics. "I think the Iranian tactic here is to try to divert attention from the thrust and complete analysis of not just this most recent report by the IAEA but all the reports by finding little small red herrings that have really no substantive bearing on the issue at hand, which is that Iran continues to try to keep from coming to light information about its program".
"The agency needs information in writing and Iran continues to prefer doing things orally. Why, so they can change their story when convenient", he asked.
Mr. Mussavian described the magnets omission as an "innocent mistake," said Iran was still willing to work with the IAEA and would accept the investigation of its nuclear program being extended until September instead of being wrapped up in June.
The US Ambassador to the IAEA, Kenneth Brill, accused Iran of "diversionary tactics".
Speaking at a press conference after the third day meeting of the IAEA Board of Directors, Mousavian added, "Even if the third draft resolution supposed to be presented by Britain, France and Germany to the 35 Governors does not succeed in meeting Iran’s expectations, we will reject it".
Touching on effects of the stands adopted recently by President Mohammad Khatami against the new position of the European big three in dealing with Iran’s nuclear programs, he said, "We feel the stands adopted by President Khatami and his firm remarks have led the members of the IAEA board of governors to evaluate Iran’s viewpoints at the agency as quite serious stand" and hoped that the effects of President Khatami’s remarks “would be reflected in the third draft”.
In a letter sent to leaders of Europe’s Big 3, the powerless Khatami had warned that the Islamic republic could back away from key commitments over its nuclear programme if the United Nations nuclear watchdog adopted a harsh resolution.
“Iran would feel no moral obligation to maintain a suspension of uranium enrichment nor allow tougher inspections by the IAEA if Iran were slapped with yet more criticism, referring to the EU’s first draft resolution calling on the Islamic Republic to stop enriching uranium and adhere officially to the Additional Protocol to the Non Proliferation Treaty.
Tehran had agreed to the two points in a 21 October meeting with foreign affairs ministers of Britain, France and Germany, but it was found afterward that not only it had not suspended uranium enriching activities, but had acquired more advanced centrifuges known as P-2 while the Majles, or the Parliament, has to ratify the Protocol that allows international inspectors to visit Iranian atomic sites and projects at will and without restrictions.
"For the moment, we do not want to leave the NPT or to stop applying the Additional Protocol, but if the European resolution is adopted in its current form, that means the Europeans do not respect their obligations to us and we will not have any obligations to them", he told reporters after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday.
Iran would feel no moral obligation to maintain a suspension of uranium enrichment nor allow tougher inspections by the IAEA if Iran were slapped with yet more criticism,
"If this process continues, we will not have any moral obligation to continue the voluntary suspension of enrichment", Khatami warned, describing the British-French-German draft as "very bad", the official Iranian news agency IRNA quoted him, adding “Iran would not capitulate to calls for it to cease all fuel cycle activities and we will not accept a resolution that is illegal".
"Expanding the dimensions of halting the uranium enrichment activities to include the activities related to the UCF plans, and the Arak heavy water power plant, is quite unacceptable for us. It is not the duty of others and we are determined to continue our program to master civil nuclear technology and to master the nuclear fuel cycle", he asserted.
However, diplomats speaking on condition of anonymity told Iran Press Service in Vienna that the latest draft expresses "strong concern" and "deplores" foot-dragging by Iran on revealing its nuclear secrets but contains no "trigger mechanism".
“The new draft would please the Americans because it might prepare the ground to send the Iran case to the (United Nations) Security Council that might in turn decide on harsh economic sanctions against Tehran, as the Americans insist”, he added.
Meanwhile, the stand off between Tehran and the IAEA boiled to a new crisis after diplomats said that the IAEA said it has information that Iran may be engaging in a new nuclear cover-up near a military facility outside Tehran.
“The agency was looking at intelligence that Iran was razing parts of a restricted area next to a military complex in a Tehran suburb”, the American news agency Associated Press quoted the diplomats speaking on condition of anonymity.
“Satellite photos showed that several buildings had been destroyed and topsoil had been removed at Lavizan Shiyan”, one diplomat said, adding that to his knowledge the International Atomic Energy Agency had not visited that site, although agency officials told the Iranians they were concerned about the unexplained activities. ENDS IRAN IAEA 17604