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'Jury Is Still Out' On Iran's Nuclear Ambitions


'Jury Is Still Out' On Iran's Nuclear Ambitions - Iaea Chief

The United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has accounted for all declared nuclear material in Iran, but it does not have a full picture of Tehran's clandestine arms ambitions, the Agency's chief said today.

Addressing a meeting in Vienna of the IAEA's Board of Governors, Mohamed ElBaradei said the Agency "is not yet in a position to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran."

He noted that the normally time-consuming process of determining the facts would take even longer with respect to Iran, given the country's past pattern of concealing its nuclear activities.

"A confidence deficit has been created, and confidence needs to be restored," the IAEA chief told the 35-member Board. "Iran's active cooperation and full transparency [are] therefore indispensable."

He also reported that progress has been made in assuring that there are no undeclared enrichment activities in Iran and in assessing the extent of Tehran's efforts to import, manufacture and use centrifuges.

At the Agency's request, Iran has agreed to let IAEA experts analyze samples taken from centrifuges and centrifuge components in the countries they came from as a basis for comparison. The aim is to "confirm the actual source of contamination and the correctness of statements made by Iran," Mr. ElBaradei said.

The IAEA has also generally been able to verify that Iran has suspended its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities, although more work is required to fully assess the situation.

Speaking to reporters before briefing the Board, the IAEA chief sounded a note of cautious optimism. "We understand much better Iran's programme now, but as I have stated before, the jury is still out on our ability to provide assurance that everything has been declared to us."

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