The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today said in a report that Iran handed over documents with the detailed instructions that it apparently purchased from a black-market network run by Pakistani nuclear scientist A. Q. Khan.
Iran also said it has restarted converting uranium into gas, a step that could eventually be used to produce nuclear weapons. The IAEA report also said that said Iran is blocking UN nuclear inspectors from key military sites.
Iranian officials have consistently countered U.S. and other countries' suggestions that it has a covert nuclear-weapons program, saying its nuclear activities are intended solely for peaceful purposes.
The chief U.S. delegate to the IAEA, Gregory Schulte, told reporters in Vienna that the documents "open new concerns about weaponization that Iran has failed to address."
In Paris, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Jean-Baptiste Mattei said the news is undermining the international community's confidence in Iran just a week before the IAEA's board of governors reconvenes to discuss whether to refer Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions.
Iran Appeals To Public
The Iranian government, meanwhile, has published in a U.S. newspaper a detailed defense of its right to develop nuclear power.
Iran's UN mission today placed a full-page advertisement in "The New York Times" saying the United States and its allies have "manufactured" a crisis over Tehran's nuclear activities.
The advertisement said Iran was forced to operate its program secretly for nearly 20 years because of attempts to deny its "inalienable right" to erect nuclear power plants. The advertisement repeated Iran's assertion that it has no intention to possess nuclear weapons because they would "undermine Iranian security."
It also said Iran is ready to pursue negotiations with three leading European Union states to resolve the issue.
U.S. State Department spokesman Adam Ereli dismissed the Iranian effort, saying: "It would be better to be forthcoming in negotiations with the EU-3 [Britain, France, and Germany] or in receiving and allowing access to IAEA inspectors and providing documents the IAEA has requested -- it would be more useful to do that than to take out expensive advertisements in 'The New York Times.'"