Israel accuses Iran of nuclear deception (AP) Associated Press) By GEORGE JAHN VIENNA, AUSTRIA 06/06/12 9:13 am ET)
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VIENNA – Renewing its criticism of Iran´s atomic agenda, Israel´s
delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency accused Tehran on
Wednesday of working secretly on nuclear weapons while pretending it
does not want such arms, under a strategy of "deception, defiance and
Iran dismisses IAEA and international suspicions that it may have
worked covertly on nuclear weapons and insists it has no interest in
possessing such arms, saying its disputed uranium enrichment program
is geared only toward generating nuclear fuel.
Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Iran´s chief IAEA delegate, said as much again
Wednesday without responding directly to Israeli delegate Ehud
Azoulay, telling the agency´s 35-nation board that all allegations to
the contrary "are forged and baseless and our nuclear activities are
exclusively for peaceful purposes."
But critics note that it has blocked the restart of an IAEA probe
into its alleged secret weapons work for nearly five years, as well
as refusing foreign offers of reactor fuel. It has instead expanded
enrichment, and because the process can make both such fuel and the
fissile material used to arm nuclear weapons, international concerns
have grown about Tehran´s nuclear ambitions.
Israel is particularly critical, noting that Iranian President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called for the eradication of Israel. It and
the United States have not ruled out military strikes against the
Islamic Republic if diplomacy fails to curb a nuclear program they
see as a cover for making weapons. While Wednesday´s comments from
Israel were not new, they mirrored the high tensions that could
result in such an attack on Iran´s nuclear facilities
Accusing Iran of "proceeding in (an) accelerated path towards
acquiring nuclear weapons capability," Azoulay told the IAEA meeting
that the Islamic Republic was employing a strategy of "deception,
defiance and concealment," to gain time for developing such weapons.
In separate comments to The Associated Press he alluded to the
military option, warning that "time is running out ... for a
Azoulay spoke ahead of two separate efforts to persuade Iran to
reduce concerns about its nuclear ambitions.
Later this month in Moscow, six world powers will attempt to convince
Tehran to stop enriching to higher levels that could be quickly
turned into weapons-grade uranium at its Fordo facility, which is dug
into a mountain and fortified against aerial attack. But Soltanieh
warned against high expectations.
"Iran will never ever suspend its enrichment activities," he told
reporters outside the IAEA meeting.
Before the Moscow talks, IAEA officials plan to meet with Soltanieh
in Vienna on Friday in attempts to prod Iran into agreeing to reopen
the agency´s probe into the alleged secret weapons work.
That IAEA probe remains stalled three weeks after agency chief Yukiya
Amano came back from Tehran saying that Iranian permission to
relaunch it was near. Focusing on the continued stalemate, Azoluay
said it shows that "all efforts to engage Iran were fruitless."
He specifically cited Tehran´s refusal to give IAEA experts access to
a site the agency believes was used to test high explosives suited
for setting off a nuclear charge, saying the Islamic Republic is
doing "its utmost to ... obstruct any investigation."
The IAEA recently showed board members satellite photos of that site,
part of the Parchin military base southeast of Tehran, and diplomats
at that closed meeting said the images showed evidence of a cleanup,
including water pouring from a building, earth being moved and the
demolition of several buildings.
Amano, the IAEA chief, confirmed the photos showed such activities
Monday. Soltanieh, the Iranian delegate to the IAEA, suggested the
agency was overstepping its mandate, telling reporters that his
country "will not permit the agency to be turned into an
international intelligence services organization." (© 2012 The
Associated Press 06/06/12)
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