UN nuclear chief chides Iran, defends monitors

The U.N. nuclear agency cannot confirm that all of Iran’s atomic activities are peaceful because of Tehran’s selective cooperation with nuclear inspectors, the agency’s chief said Monday.

Yukiya Amano also chided Iran for barring some of those inspectors, warning that move hampered his watchdog agency’s attempts to monitor Iran’s nuclear program. And he suggested the jury is still out on allegations that Tehran conducted secret experiments meant to develop atomic arms because the Islamic Republic continues to stonewall an IAEA probe into U.S. and other intelligence agency reports purporting to contain evidence of such experiments.

Amano’s blunt comments, at the start of a 35-nation IAEA board meeting, drew a strong response from Iran, which accused him of distorting facts in a report prepared for the gathering.

“We request the director general to immediately reconsider this sort of reporting ... so that it will not create political tensions,” said Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran’s chief delegate to the IAEA.

Iran insists it is interested only in generating energy through enrichment. But since revelations of its secret enrichment program eight years ago, concerns have grown that Iran is interested in making nuclear weapons, in part through its refusal to give up enrichment and accept fuel from abroad.

The IAEA report noted that Iran continued to enrich uranium in defiance of five U.N. Security Council resolutions, and focused in greater detail on issues mentioned Monday by Amano — the lack of progress on the IAEA probe of Iran’s purported arms program experiments, and Tehran’s decision to strip two inspectors of their monitoring rights after they reported what they called undeclared nuclear experiments.

Read tomorrow's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette for full details.

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