02/26/2008, 00.00
IRAN

Doubts of the IAEA over the Iranian bomb bring Tehran toward new sanctions

The report of the UN atomic energy agency asserts that it has never had "credible assurances" on the military program, which according to U.S. intelligence had been ended in 2003. "Sanctions will not stop us", says Ahmadinejad.

Tehran (AsiaNews) - New sanctions in view for Iran at the United Nations, after the report of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in which it is maintained that Tehran could have carried forward the program to build atomic weapons.  The report of the director general of the IAEA, Mohamed El Baradei, which bears the date of February 22, was presented yesterday behind closed doors, and disagrees with the conclusions of United States intelligence agencies, according to which the Iranian military nuclear program was ended in 2003.  According to the report, although Tehran has become more transparent on nuclear matters, it has not provided "credible assurances" that it is not constructing a bomb.

For its part, Tehran disputes the conclusions.  Its representative to the UN, Mohammad Khazaee, has written a letter to the members of the security council and to the secretary of the UN, Ban Ki-moon, in which he emphasises the part of the report by the IAEA that highlights the cooperation of his country with the agency and accuses "some countries" of having pushed the security council to sanctions in the past for "exclusively political reasons" and "on the basis of unfounded pretexts and assertions".

For its part, the Iranian news agency IRNA maintains that the report by El Baradei is "90% favourable toward Iran ". But Ali Khorram, an expert on international affairs, tells the Mehr News Agency "current nuclear negotiators should not view El Baradei’s reports with very much optimism" in that "it does not declare that Iran’s nuclear dossier has been closed". This negative aspect, in his judgment, could outweigh the positive judgments of "transparency" and convince countries like Libya, Indonesia, South Africa, and Vietnam - currently undecided - to vote in favour of new sanctions.  Officially, this seems not to worry the Iranian president. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has reiterated his position on state television, saying that "if they want to continue on the path of sanctions they will not hurt us.  They can continue to make resolutions for 100 years".

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