Iran hands over key drawings to UN nuclear agency
( 2003-11-06 09:41) (Agencies)
Iran said on Wednesday it had handed over to the U.N. nuclear watchdog crucial drawings of equipment used in its uranium enrichment program to help prove it was not seeking to make an atomic bomb.
"We revealed all components to the agency, including (original) drawings...so there is nothing which the agency has no information on," Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told Reuters.
Salehi said Tehran would deliver a letter accepting tougher short-notice nuclear inspections by the IAEA within a matter of days.
Earlier this year, the IAEA found traces of weapons-grade highly enriched uranium on components of uranium-enrichment centrifuges.
Iran says the traces were from contaminated parts purchased abroad, an explanation that met with skepticism in Washington and other capitals that suspect Tehran either bought or enriched the uranium itself for use in an atomic bomb.
A diplomat familiar with the IAEA told Reuters delivery of the drawings was significant because they represented the "building blocks of Iran's centrifuge program" and could help the agency's investigation into the origin of the uranium.
Iran has said it was unable to provide the IAEA with names of the countries of origin of the centrifuge components because it bought them on the black market in the 1980s.
Tehran has repeatedly said it was about to hand over a letter of intent to sign a protocol accepting short-notice inspections, but has yet to do so.
"The letter has been prepared and we are going to hand it over to the IAEA Secretariat," Salehi said. "I would say it's in days."
Salahi said there was no question about Iran's intention to sign.
"We cannot specify exactly the date. But it's certainly going to be before the (IAEA board meeting on November 20) because they have to be informed before the board so they can put it on the agenda," he said.
The main item at the meeting is IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei's report on inspections in Iran and Tehran's compliance with an October 31 deadline to make a complete declaration of its nuclear program.
After the board approves Iran's intention to sign the Additional Protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran can sign the document. Tehran has said it will allow the tougher inspections even before parliament ratifies the protocol.
Salehi said Iran had not halted its uranium enrichment activities, which Washington fears are at the heart of a secret atomic weapons program, but would do so soon.
"It's being studied, but measures are being taken to start this process. (The suspension) hasn't yet started," he said.
Diplomats told Reuters there had been disagreement between the Europeans and Iran on what constituted a suspension.
The French, Germans and British want the massive Natanz enrichment plant to halt all operations, whereas Iran wants to only halt its enrichment centrifuges and continue research work.
Salehi said the Europeans and Iranians were close to an agreement on the definition of a suspension and the halt was "not going to be very late in the future."
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