Reuters: The United Nations received intelligence from around 10 countries on Iran engaging in studies, engineering work or procurement which could be relevant to designing and building a nuclear bomb, diplomats said.
By Karin Strohecker
VIENNA (Reuters) – The United Nations received intelligence from around 10 countries on Iran engaging in studies, engineering work or procurement which could be relevant to designing and building a nuclear bomb, diplomats said.
The latest confidential Iran report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sent to board members on Monday said Tehran's alleged research into nuclear warheads "remained a matter of serious concern" and it needed to provide "substantive explanations."
The U.N. nuclear watchdog has been pressing Tehran to provide answers to Western intelligence allegations that it covertly studied how to design atomic bombs. Iran has dismissed the intelligence as baseless, forged or irrelevant.
Questioned at a closed door briefing on the report, which was also handed to the U.N. Security Council, IAEA investigator Olli Heinonen said documents had come from around 10 different countries, diplomats who attended the session said.
Under the so-called work plan agreed between the IAEA and Iran in August, Tehran agreed to resolve all outstanding questions about its nuclear activities.
In April, the U.N. nuclear watchdog said Iran had agreed on steps to clarify the nuclear research allegations by the end of May. In its latest report the agency called on Iran to provide more information on its missile work.
Iran said this issue was never part of the work plan, did not have to be resolved and that its slate was now clean.
Part of the intelligence comes from a laptop spirited out of Iran. The United States passed the information on to the IAEA in 2005, although it only authorized the agency to present it earlier this year.
Iran again rejected this intelligence on Thursday and said the fact that none of it had been labeled as confidential and discrepancies about dates, timing and names proved it was fake.
"Whatever is shown in the papers, the communications and drawings and the films are all fabricated," the Iranian envoy to the IAEA, Ali Ashgar Soltanieh, told journalists on Thursday.
"The CIA has done a lousy job, they should have done a better job to prepare something that at least could fly."
The United States said Tehran still had a lot of explaining to do.
"Today's briefing showed us there are strong reasons to suspect that Iran was working covertly and deceitfully at least until recently to build a bomb," said Gregory Schulte, the U.S. envoy to the agency.
"Iran's nuclear file remains wide open and full of troubling questions, including many with possible military dimensions."
Tehran's history of nuclear secrecy and continued restrictions on IAEA inspections fan Western suspicions that the underlying aim of its efforts to industrialize uranium enrichment is to be able to build nuclear bombs.
The Islamic Republic, the world's number four oil exporter, says its nuclear program aims solely at generating electricity so that it can export more of its oil and gas. It insists its nuclear program is a national right it will not give up.
The IAEA emphasized in its latest report it had not detected the actual use of nuclear material in connection with the allegations.
The IAEA's board of governors will meet from June 2-6.
(Editing by Jon Boyle and Robert Woodward)