The Guardian: Britain claimed for the first time yesterday that documents recently found in Iran could only be used for
nuclear weapons, and warned of “indications of weaponisation” in Tehran’s nuclear programme. The Guardian
Ian Traynor in Vienna
Britain claimed for the first time yesterday that documents recently found in Iran could only be used for nuclear weapons, and warned of “indications of weaponisation” in Tehran’s nuclear programme.
At a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency devoted to the confrontation between Iran and the west over Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, the British ambassador to the IAEA, Peter Jenkins, was the first western official to state bluntly that a document recently obtained by UN inspectors in Iran related solely to nuclear weapon plans.
The ambassador was joined by German officials who assailed Iran on the issue and added that Tehran had denied the existence of such documents for more than two years.
The IAEA chief, Mohamed El Baradei, revealed in a report to diplomats last week that his inspectors had been given a cache of documents in Iran, including one supplied by the international nuclear smuggling racket headed by the Pakistani Abdul Qadeer Khan, showing how to “cast and machine enriched natural and depleted uranium into hemispherical forms”. Since the disclosure experts and diplomats have been divided over the purposes of such information. Ambassador Jenkins, speaking on behalf of the EU, left no room for ambiguity.
“Iran has admitted to having a document … which describes a process that has no application other than the production of nuclear weapons,” he said. Experts say the instructions refer to the manufacture of the core of a warhead. “You don’t try to cast uranium into hemispheric form for any other purpose. That’s the expert view in London,” said a senior official.
Despite mounting western suspicions, Tehran won a reprieve in its long game of brinkmanship. The IAEA board decided in September to take the row to the UN security council but left open when this might happen. Yesterday there was little talk of going to the security council as the Europeans sought to reopen negotiations with Iran broken off four months ago.
Russia has stepped into the breach with a plan aimed at defusing the crisis, although the chances of success appear slim. The British, French, Germans, Iranians and Russians are expected to resume talks within a fortnight on a plan that would allow Iran to process uranium ore into gas but then export the gas to Russia to be enriched into nuclear fuel. This would minimise the chances of Iran obtaining weapons-grade uranium but guarantee its access to fuel for power stations.