The Guardian: The UN's nuclear watchdog will report that Iran is continuing to obstruct its investigation into allegations of past work on nuclear weapons, but the country's uranium enrichment programme was expanding more slowly than expected.
Julian Borger, diplomatic editor
The UN's nuclear watchdog will report that Iran is continuing to obstruct its investigation into allegations of past work on nuclear weapons, but the country's uranium enrichment programme was expanding more slowly than expected.
The report, due to be released today or tomorrow, is likely to sharpen debate within the Obama administration, which is reviewing its Iran policy.
Previewing the report, Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) gave a scathing assessment of Iran's co-operation with his inspectors' inquiries into the country's past nuclear experimentation, alleged by the US and its allies to be aimed at building weapons.
"Iran right now is not providing any access or any clarification with regard to those studies or the whole possible military dimension," ElBaradei said in Paris. "No, I'm not obviously happy with the degree of co-operation, because there is a number of issues they still need to co-operate with us. Have they done studies in the past? Have they done weaponisation work in the past? They shut off any co-operation with the agency over the past few months."
The report will also make clear that Iran is still defying demands by the UN security council to stop enriching uranium, despite three sets of sanctions. But ElBaradei said Iran had not significantly expanded its enrichment programme at its plant in Natanz in the last few months.
Western diplomats urged caution over ElBaradei's conclusions, saying that Iran's enrichment programme has varied in speed over the years but had relentlessly expanded in the face of UN sanctions and possible US and Israeli military action.
ElBaradei also previewed the IAEA findings on a site in Syria bombed in 2007 by Israel, and alleged by Israel and the US to be a nuclear reactor under construction. He said samples taken at the site were not conclusive and called on Damascus to offer more co-operation. Jane's Intelligence Review reported yesterday that satellite imagery between 2005 and 2008 showed "significant levels of construction" at an alleged chemical weapons facility at Safir, in northwestern Syria.