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Iran: U.S. Says IAEA Report Bolsters Case For Fresh Sanctions


Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Said Jalili, told reporters in Tehran on February 22 that the IAEA report confirms Iran's peaceful nuclear intentions (AFP) The United States says a new report by the UN's nuclear watchdog strengthens the case for fresh sanctions against Iran.


In a report released on February 22 to its board member states, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Tehran continued to enrich uranium in defiance of UN demands and was testing centrifuges to speed up the process.


"This report demonstrates that whatever the Iranians may be doing to try to clean up some elements of the past, it is inadequate -- given their current activities, given questions about their past activities and given what we all have to worry about, which is a future in which Iran could start to perfect the technologies that could lead to nuclear weapons," U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said. "This is good reason to move forward with the Security Council resolution."


Rice was speaking to reporters in Washington as the UN nuclear watchdog said it could offer no "credible assurances" that Iran was not building a bomb.


Evaded Proper Response


In its report, the IAEA did praise Iran for granting its inspectors access to sites previously off-limits.


But the nuclear watchdog said Tehran had evaded a proper response to claims it had made secret efforts to coordinate uranium processing, missile warhead design work, and high-explosives tests, a file known as "weaponization studies."


"The issue is still critical for us to be able to come to a determination as to the nature of Iran's nuclear program." -- IAEA chief Muhammad el-Baradei

"I should, however, add that in connection with the weaponization studies, we have not seen any indication that these studies were linked to nuclear material," IAEA Director-General Muhammad el-Baradei told reporters in Vienna. "So that gives us some satisfaction, but the issue is still critical for us to be able to come to a determination as to the nature of Iran's nuclear program."


In Tehran, Iran's top nuclear negotiator, Said Jalili, told reporters that further sanctions would be a "disgrace," arguing that the IAEA report proved that accusations that it wanted nuclear weapons were baseless.


"The [IAEA] in this report published today confirmed the truth about the comments of the Islamic Republic of Iran on its nuclear program," Jalili said. "I congratulate the Iranian nation for this success and victory, which was a result of their resistance on [the country's] nuclear rights."


Third Sanctions Resolution


Tehran refuses to stop enriching uranium, claiming its work is aimed purely at generating electricity.


On February 21, France and Britain formally submitted a third sanctions resolution against Iran to the UN Security Council, a draft of which was approved last month with support from the United States, Russia, China, and Germany.


Senior diplomats from the five permanent members of the Security Council and Germany are to meet in Washington on February 25 to mull their next step.

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