director general of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, said ... Bloomberg
Iran must do more to win the confidence of weapons inspectors that it isn't seeking to acquire a nuclear bomb, said Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the United Nation's nuclear watchdog.
"We still have a lot of work to do before we can come to a conclusion that Iran is clean,'' ElBaradei, director general of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, said in an interview with British Broadcasting Corp. radio. "The jury is still out.''
The comments follow Iran's announcement that it has suspended enrichment of uranium, which the U.S. says may be aimed at building nuclear weapons. Iran, the second biggest oil producer in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, says its nuclear program is aimed at generating electricity.
The IAEA's governing board meets Nov. 25 to discuss Iran's nuclear program after threatening to refer the matter to the UN Security Council if Iran continues work on uranium enrichment.
Gholam-Reza Aqazadeh, head of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency, said yesterday uranium enrichment would be halted today under the accord, according to Iran's state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.
ElBaradei said he couldn't verify Iran's announcement that the enrichment has halted under an agreement with Britain, France and Germany. Iran was working to make uranium hexafluoride, or UH6, one of the chemical precursors needed to build a bomb.
Iran has produced up to two tons of uranium hexafluoride, which is about 15 percent of the amount needed to make a bomb, ElBaradei said in Vienna, Agence France-Presse reported.
"We're still going through the verification process,'' ElBaradei said. "They need to build confidence. The suspension of uranium enrichment is a step in the right direction. I would like Iran to continue to demonstrate maximum transparency.''
Diplomats monitoring Iran's nuclear program are upset that the nation accelerated enrichment of uranium ahead of today's suspension, the Financial Times reported on Nov. 20.
The London-based Observer newspaper reported Nov. 21 that military officials in the U.S. Defense Department have drawn up plans for a military strike to neutralize Iran's nuclear program.
ElBaradei said inspectors found "particles'' of highly enriched uranium -- the sort that Iran could use to build a bomb. He said Iranian officials maintained that the particles came along with gear they bought on the black market.
The U.S. has said it can see no economic reason for Iran, which exports 3.96 million barrels of oil a day, to need nuclear power for electricity. The U.S. has banned trade with Iran since 1979, when students loyal to Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini seized the U.S. embassy staff in Tehran as hostages.
Britain, Germany and France also have expressed concerns about Iran's nuclear program, though they've taken the lead in negotiations for a peaceful solution.