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U.N. Nuclear Agency Is Preparing to Admonish Iran on Disclosure

'Cooperation has not been as full, timely and proactive as it should have been,' draft says.

June 18, 2004|Sonya Yee | Times Staff Writer

VIENNA — The United Nations nuclear watchdog is set to strongly rebuke Iran for failing to fully disclose information on its disputed nuclear program, despite eleventh-hour Iranian efforts to have the resolution toned down.

The resolution, which was formally submitted to the International Atomic Energy Agency's governing board late Thursday and expected to be passed today, "deplores" that "Iran's cooperation has not been as full, timely and proactive as it should have been."

It also calls on the Iranian government "on an urgent basis to help resolve all outstanding questions" about its nuclear intentions, but stops short of imposing a deadline.

Iran had pushed to soften the language of the resolution after presenting evidence Wednesday that led the IAEA to acknowledge that it made a mistake in its latest report on Iran's nuclear activities. The agency stated that contrary to its report that Iran had denied importing parts to enrich uranium, Tehran did disclose the purchases.

IAEA Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei told reporters that the new information did not alter the thrust of the agency findings, namely that Iran had yet to divulge the scope and intention of its nuclear program.

"This technical correction does not change the fact that we still need proactive cooperation by Iran," he said.

Iranian delegation chief Hossein Mousavian said that the omission was a "big mistake," and that the new evidence made it clear that Iran had fulfilled its obligations.

"It shows Iranian cooperation, Iranian information has been full and precise, on time with no contradictions and no changes," he told reporters.

Iran maintains that it seeks only to generate electricity, but Washington has argued that the country is hiding a secret nuclear weapons program.

Kenneth Brill, the U.S. ambassador to the IAEA, dismissed the controversy as the latest in a series of "red herrings that have really no substantive bearing on the issue at hand, which is that Iran continues to try to keep from coming to light information about its program."

Iranian pressure only delayed the final draft resolution, which diplomats had hoped would be put before the IAEA's 35-member governing board on Wednesday. The text remained largely unchanged from earlier versions.

The resolution was drafted by Britain, France and Germany, the so-called EU-3 that last fall negotiated a deal with Iran to stop enriching uranium and open up the country's nuclear facilities to inspection.

The U.S. had pushed for a deadline, but the resolution offers only a loose time frame, saying that it is "essential to bring these issues to a close within the next few months."

A Western diplomat called the resolution "an acceptable basis" for continuing inspections.

"This resolution appears to be stronger than earlier resolutions," he said.

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