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Asia-pacific

IAEA reports 'major concerns' over Iran's nuclear drive

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-02-24

The UN atomic watchdog IAEA said Friday it had "major concerns" about its nuclear programme, including "possible military dimensions". Iran had refused to allow the team access to a site thought to be conducting suspicious explosive tests.

AFP - The UN atomic agency said Friday it has "major differences" with Iran and "major concerns" about its nuclear programme, after inspectors probing suspected weapons work returned from Tehran empty-handed.

"An intensive discussion was held on the structured approach to the clarification of all outstanding issues related to Iran's nuclear programme. No agreement was reached between Iran and the Agency, as major differences existed with respect to this approach," a report on the trip said.

"The agency continues to have serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme," the report by the International Atomic Energy Agency circulated to member states added.

It added that Iran has tripled production of 20-percent enriched uranium since its last assessment in November, with 696 centrifuges installed at its heavily bunkered Fordo site -- all of them older-generation, however.

Uranium further enriched to 90-percent purity could in theory be used in a nuclear bomb, although Iran denies intending to do so, saying its activities are peaceful.



A senior official familiar with the investigation said that during their two visits to Tehran in the past month -- another is not planned -- IAEA inspectors spoke only to "middle men."

"Iran wanted to constrain the process, and put us in a harness," the official said on condition of anonymity.

In particular, the IAEA said there was a "disappointing" refusal by Iran to allow the team access to the Parchin military site near Tehran, where a November IAEA report said scientists had conducted suspicious explosives tests.

That report focused on a number of areas where the IAEA believes Iran carried out activities the agency said could only conceivably be aimed at developing nuclear weapons.

Iranian officials repeated their assertion during the recent visits that the report, which has prompted Western countries to ramp up sanctions, was based on forgeries, the official said.

The report has also heightened speculation that Israel may launch air strikes in an attempt to knock out Iran's nuclear facilities, possibly even later this year.

Date created : 2012-02-24

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