(AP) UN: Iran not cooperating on nuclear weapons probe
By EDITH M. LEDERER
The U.N. nuclear chief said Monday that Iran is not cooperating with an investigation into suspected secret work on nuclear weapons.
Yukio Amano told the U.N. General Assembly that talks between the International Atomic Energy Agency and Iran have intensified this year after an IAEA report in November 2011 said it had “credible information that Iran had carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device,” he said.
While the IAEA continues to verify that Iran’s declared nuclear material is not being diverted from peaceful purposes, “Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation to enable us to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities,” Amano said.
Iran has repeatedly denied any interest in possessing nuclear arms, but the international community fears that Tehran may turn its peaceful uranium enrichment program toward weapons making _ a concern that is growing as the government expands the number of machines it uses to enrich its stockpile of enriched uranium.
As those fears grow, so does concern that Israel could carry out its threats to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities before that nation reaches the bomb-making threshold.
In his annual report to the world body, Amano said he also remains “seriously concerned” about North Korea’s nuclear program, calling its statements about uranium enrichment activities and the construction of a light water reactor “deeply troubling.”
In late 2010, Pyongyang unveiled a uranium enrichment facility that could give North Korea a second route to manufacture nuclear weapons in addition to its plutonium-based program. Earlier this year, satellite images showed that North Korea has made progress in building a light-water reactor to expand its nuclear program.
North Korea is under tough U.N. sanctions, and Amano called on Pyongyang to comply with its obligations under Security Council resolutions and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and “to cooperate promptly and fully” with the IAEA.
IAEA inspectors were most recently expelled three years ago after the North quit talks with five key nations, including the United States, on halting its nuclear weapons program. North Korea restarted its nuclear facilities and less than a month later. In May 2009, it conducted its second nuclear weapons test.
Amano also urged the Syrian government to respond to questions about a building destroyed by Israeli warplanes at the Dair Alzour site in the Syrian desert in 2007. The IAEA has said the building was “very likely” the covert site of a nuclear reactor.
The United States asserted more than four years ago that the bombed target was a nuclear reactor, but Syria has repeatedly denied allegations of any covert nuclear activity or interest in developing nuclear arms, saying the building was a non-nuclear military site.