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By Safa Haeri
Posted Tuesday, March 9, 2004

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"At the time...we were not obliged to announce some of our researches, as we had not finished them" Vienna-based international nuclear watchdog Pirooz Pirhoseyni explained.


TEHRAN-VIENNA, 9 Mar. (IPS) Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister Kamal Kharrazi on Tuesday dismissed as "wrong" the allegations made by the UN nuclear watchdog chief Mohammad ElBarade’i that Iran had breached its commitments and warned it will "not accept" being declared as having violated nuclear safeguards agreements or being compared to Libya".

"It is wrong to say that Iran has violated its commitments, and Tehran will certainly not accept this, as it is also an error to compare Iran to Libya, because Libya officially declared it was seeking nuclear weapons, which constitutes a violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)", he was quoted by the official Iranian news agency IRNA, in reaction to Mr. ElBrade’i accusing the Islamic Republic and Libya for being "in breach of their obligations under the safeguards agreement" of the NPT.

"In view of many years of violation of non-proliferation obligations by Libya and Iran, I am asking for the provision of information and a full measure of transparency", Mr. ElBradeh’i had stated on Monday to the Agency’s Board of Directors that had rejected a key demand from Tehran to take the Iranian case off its agenda, voicing "serious concern" at omissions in Tehran's declarations about its nuclear activities.

"I am seriously concerned that Iran's October declaration did not include any reference to its possession of P2 centrifuge designs and related R&D (Research and Development), which in my view was a setback to Iran's stated policy of transparency", Dr. ElBarade’i told the 35 members Board.

He also singled out Tehran's failure to mention that it had designs for advanced centrifuges capable of producing highly enriched uranium for use in a nuclear reactor or, potentially, in an atomic weapon.

But Kharazi said the IAEA chief was merely referring to "failures, which are very different to violations."

"Most of these failures are in the past and are being corrected," the Iranian Foreign Affairs Minister said.

There was also an angry reaction from Mr. Hoseyn Moussavian, Iran’s former ambassador to Germany who now is a close aide to Hojjatoleslam Hasan Rohani, the influential Secretary of Iran’s Supreme Council for National Security and main negotiator with the IAEA.

"For several years, Iran has been fully cooperating with the agency, so we do not expect these kind of statements from Mr. ElBaradei," he said, adding that Tehran hoped the IAEA chief's "serious error" would be "corrected".

"The case concerning Iran's peaceful nuclear activities should be completely closed at the IAEA Board of Governors and removed from its agenda", Mr. Rohani, had said during the inaugural session of the Assembly of Experts, an all clerics 86 seats body that convenes twice a year and had the power the elect or dismiss the leader of the regime.

He also called on the Atomic Club to admit Iran as a full member, as it is mastering the full circle of nuclear processing, including enriching uranium.

His demand surprised nuclear experts as membership at the Atomic Club means that one can also produce nuclear weapons, something that Iran insists adamantly that is not the case.

But Mr. Elbradeh’i said the issue would be removed from the agenda "when we are done with all the issues that are outstanding".

"The main issue is the nature of Tehran's enrichment program and the origin of highly enriched uranium found by U.N. inspectors last year" he added.

According to an IAEA report made public last month, Tehran was accused of continuing to hide evidence of nuclear experiments unearthed by agency inspectors, dealing Iran a setback in its efforts to convince the world that its nuclear program is peaceful and that it is fully cooperating with the U.N. agency.

Iranian Ambassador to Austria who now also represents his country to the Vienna-based international nuclear watchdog Pirooz Pirhoseyni told reporters that Tehran was the victim of a "war of propaganda" and the press had misquoted Iranian officials last year as saying the October dossier was complete.

"At the time...we were not obliged to announce some of our researches, as we had not finished them" he explained.

However, he promised that Iran’s nuclear projects would be open to IAEA inspections saying, "we will give the Agency all the information it considers important to know, according to the additional Protocol that Tehran has signed last December, but has not been approved by the Parliament.

American ambassador Kenneth Brill shot back, telling correspondents he thought it was striking that the more the agency learns the more the Iranians have to change their stories.

Correspondents in Vienna said contrary to their previous stand, Britain, France and Germany that has achieved an agreement with Mr. Rohani last October for Iranian signing the Additional Protocol to the Non Proliferation Treaty and suspending enriching uranium have now coming closer to American position, calling for a more stringent resolution by the IAEA on Iran.

In a bold article on Sunday, "Keyhan", a hard line Iranian newspaper close to Ayatollah Ali Khameneh'i, the regime’s leader, urged lawmakers at the next Majles to reject the Protocol if the IAEA, "under pressures from the United States and Zionist circles continue with its biased, irrational and dishonest treatment of the Islamic Republic".

Iran insists it is building a nuclear program purely to generate electricity. The United States accuses Tehran of systematic deception and says it is bent on acquiring nuclear weapons.

ElBaradei urged Tehran to ensure full transparency and help restore international confidence by "taking the initiative to provide all relevant information in full detail and in a prompt manner."

Revelations in recent weeks that a top Pakistani atomic scientist sold nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya have intensified international concern that "rogue states" or terrorists could get their hands on weapons of mass destruction.

Instead of Iran, the Board of Governors got Libya out of its agenda after Colonel Mu’ammar Ghaddafi unexpectedly renounced all Libya’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs in December and called on Iran and North Korea to follow his example.

IAEA spokeswoman Melissa Fleming said Russia took delivery Monday of an air cargo of highly enriched uranium removed from Libya as part of Tripoli's disarmament.

She told reporters the uranium was 80 percent enriched, very close to being pure enough to use in a nuclear weapon. Russia would now blend it down into low-enriched uranium.

Fleming also said Libya, along with Niger, would sign an Additional Protocol to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty on Wednesday, permitting instant and unrestricted inspections to verify its future compliance.

ElBarade’i informed the Board about "an extensive international network of black-market proliferators", telling the governors that export controls needed to become "broader and tighter", and mechanisms must be put in place to ensure the agency was told of all sensitive nuclear or nuclear-related technology transfers.

He said he would soon appoint expert groups to look at the possibility of setting up regional centres to tighten control over activities like nuclear fuel production, processing of weapons-usable material and disposal of waste.

"The nuclear non-proliferation regime remains under stress, and a range of measures will be needed to restore confidence in its effectiveness", he said. ENDS IRAN IAEA NUCLEAR 9304



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