Vienna: Iran has offered some cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency in its probe of an alleged secret uranium processing project linked by US intelligence to a nuclear arms programme, even while dismissing such claims as “baseless allegations.”
The pledge was contained in a memorandum reached between Iran and the IAEA and published on 27 August on the agency’s Web site at the request of Tehran’s mission to the agency.
Tehran also outlined its timetable for providing other sensitive information sought by the IAEA in its probe of more than two decades of nuclear activity by the Islamic republic, most of it clandestine until revealed more than four years ago.
The document reiterated Iran’s allegations that the search for information on the so-called “Green Salt Project” was “politically motivated” and founded on “baseless allegations.”
But as a “sign of good will and cooperation with the agency .. . Iran will review” documentation on the project provided by the agency “and inform the agency of its assessment,” according to the memorandum.
There was no official comment from the IAEA. But a diplomat familiar with the agreement suggested that while the document was encouraging in reflecting agreement between Tehran and the agency on the focus of outstanding questions, its language was loose enough to allow Iran loopholes, should it not decide to fully honour its commitments.
“Iran has now a few months to demonstrate that they are truly serious about finally coming forward on these crucial issues that have left the world suspicious,” said the diplomat, who demanded anonymity in exchange for discussing confidential matters with The Associated Press.
And even if the answers provided on Iran on past activities revealed no signs that it had clandestinely tried to make weapons, it would still not resolve “the difficult part which is to provide assurances that there are no undeclared nuclear activities at present,” said the diplomat.
Less than a week ago, Iran and the Vienna-based IAEA announced an agreement on the timetable for full Iranian cooperation with the agency’s nuclear investigation. It is only one of the demands set by the UN Security Council in attempts to dispel suspicions that Iranian claims it wants to develop a full nuclear cycle for generating power is merely a cover for a covert weapons programme.
But of most concern to the council are activities that could lead directly to the making of nuclear weapons. Tehran has defied demands to stop developing its uranium enrichment program, which can produce fuel and the core of warheads, and mothball construction of a plutonium-producing reactor which, once completed, can also make weapons material, leading to two sets of council sanctions.
In the past, Iran has refused to answer questions about secret plutonium experiments in the mid-1990s and IAEA findings that Iran has not accounted for all the plutonium it has said it possessed.
IAEA experts also want to know more about unexplained traces of plutonium and enriched uranium found last year at a nuclear waste facility, apparent black market purchases of polonium 210, which can act as a trigger for a nuclear device, diagrams showing how to mold uranium metal into the shape of warheads and about the “Green Salt Project.”
Diplomats told the AP last year that the agency was trying to follow up on US intelligence that described that project as linking uranium enrichment-related experiments to nuclear-related high explosives and warhead design.
Other IAEA findings of concern include traces of enriched uranium found at a military site, and Iranian diagrams the IAEA has seen that explain how to form uranium metal into the shape of a warhead, all questions that the Iranian memorandum pledged to answer to the agency’s full satisfaction after already meeting less thorny IAEA requests over the past few weeks.