sure it is going to happen," he told Reuters in an interview as he prepares to leave office. "You can't look in every cave that might be in Iran." Reuters
WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Colin Powell said on Friday Washington had no way to force Iran to allow U.N. inspectors unrestricted access to suspected nuclear sites despite U.S. doubts Tehran would come clean on its own.
"I can't make sure it is going to happen," he told Reuters in an interview as he prepares to leave office. "You can't look in every cave that might be in Iran."
Powell also said Iran's agreement with Europeans last month to suspend some suspicious nuclear activities was inadequate, but said the international community must still press Iran to reveal the full extent of its weapons program.
The Bush administration worries Iran may be developing a nuclear weapon at secret sites, where it may continue to work, while it has agreed to open other facilities to inspectors.
But Powell acknowledged Washington has failed to win international support, even from its major European allies, to demand unrestricted access.
"We have to remain uneasy about this (agreement) because it is still only a suspension. ... We really need an end to that program," he said.
"It is a question of whether or not the international community ... will be diligent and will be persistent in pressing the Iranians to give us full disclosure of their programs."
This week the U.N. nuclear watchdog rejected U.S. demands that Iran be referred to the U.N. Security Council for possible economic sanctions and it passed an EU-sponsored resolution calling on Iran to freeze uranium enrichment activities. It noted the freeze was voluntary and non-binding.
Diplomats and arms experts said the U.N. inspection process had been dealt a severe blow this week when EU negotiators gave in to Iran's demands that a clause insisting it grant the watchdog "unrestricted access" be removed from a draft resolution.
Washington says oil-rich Iran is developing weapons under cover of a nuclear energy program. Tehran denies this, insisting its atomic ambitions are limited to the peaceful generation of electricity.