TOPICS > Politics

IAEA Censures Iran for Secret Nuclear Efforts

BY Admin  November 26, 2003 at 12:45 PM EST

The Vienna-based nuclear watchdog said if Iran committed any violations of its nonproliferation agreement than its case would be sent to the Security Council, the U.N.’s supreme body.

“It is pretty clear that the board is sending a very serious and ominous message that failures in the future will not be tolerated and that the board will use all options available to it to deal with these failures,” IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei said at a news conference.

Iran responded to the resolution, calling it proof of Iran’s innocence.

“This resolution … proved that Iran has followed its peaceful nuclear activities with transparency and truthfulness,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said.

The United States, however, interpreted the resolution differently.

“The board has expressed the international community’s unity in rejecting Iran’s policies of denial, delay and deception, and has acknowledged Iran’s past behavior as non-compliance,” said Kenneth Brill, U.S. ambassador to the IAEA.

The United States wanted Iran to report to the Security Council for “non-compliance” under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but European nations did not agree with the United States.

The 35 members of the IAEA Board of Governors approved the resolution, including the United States, Reuters reported.

“Certainly we have committed ourselves to sign the additional protocol and that’s what we are going to do,” Iran’s representative to the IAEA Ali Akbar Salehi said. The additional protocol to the Non-Proliferation Treaty would allow the IAEA to conduct more complete, snap inspections of nuclear facilities.

Reporting to the Security Council is still a possibility for Iran. The resolution has a “trigger clause,” which means if further breaches are discovered, the IAEA board will meet immediately to discuss possible consequences for Iran, one of which is the Security Council.

Though Salehi said that Tehran accepted responsibility for failing to report its nuclear activities to the IAEA, he also cited the strict restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in defense of Iran’s secrecy.

“Given the scope and severity of the ever expanding illegal restrictions on Iran’s access to nuclear technology, and other technologies for that matter, over the last quarter of a century, was Iran expected to forgo its inalienable right (to nuclear technology) altogether?” Salehi asked.

Some experts believe that Iran still has some secrets about its nuclear program.

“It’s very likely that Iran has more skeletons in its closet,” said Jon Wolfsthal, deputy director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.