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Atomic Agency Calling for Iran To Disclose Nuclear Activities

By Elaine Sciolino
THE NEW YORK TIMES

The International Atomic Energy Agency released a report on Monday saying that it cannot conclude that Iran’s nuclear program is intended for peaceful purposes only, as Tehran insists, unless Iran provides more information about its past activities, an agency official said.

The report was sent to the 35 nations that make up the agency’s board of governors, who are to discuss the looming showdown over Iran at a meeting next week in Moscow. On Feb. 4, the board voted to refer Iran’s case to the U.N. Security Council, but it extended a grace period of a month to allow for diplomatic efforts.

In the report, the agency’s director, Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei, wrote that “it is regrettable and a matter of concern that the uncertainties related to the scope and nature of Iran’s nuclear program have not been clarified after three years of intensive agency verification.”

The report did not conclude that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons, but rather that the agency cannot be sure that nothing is being hidden unless Tehran adopts an attitude of “active cooperation,” the agency official said.

Iran’s cooperation so far has been “very limited,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the report publicly.

Iran acknowledged in 2003 that it had deceived international inspectors for many years, but it said that its program was now meant solely to develop reactors to meet its needs for electricity. The United States, and more recently its European allies, have argued that Security Council action is needed to block Iran from the road to nuclear weapons.

While the United States had emphasized the need to stop the program before Iran’s scientists master the techniques of nuclear enrichment, ElBaradei and agency officials have focused in recent discussions on the need for “transparency” in clearing up unanswered questions from the period of violations.

They have noted that under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Iran has the right to conduct research and even to enrich uranium, although ElBaradei has called on Tehran to resume its research moratorium as a confidence-building measure as the international community considers its case.

The report released Monday also stressed that theme, saying that to dispel doubts about the program Iran needed to provide a level of cooperation “that extends beyond the formal legal requirements” of its agreement with the agency.

Otherwise, it said, “the agency’s ability to reconstruct the history of Iran’s past program and verify the correctness and completeness of the statements made by Iran, particularly with regard to its centrifuge (nuclear fuel) enrichment program, will be limited, and questions about the past and current direction of Iran’s nuclear program will continue to be raised.”

The agency official said that full cooperation would include restoring an agreement that gave inspectors the right to conduct unscheduled visits and actively working to make documents and scientists available.