11/17/2009, 00.00
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The IAEA wants "clarification" on the Iranian nuclear program

A report by the UN states that the secret Qom center "lowers the level of confidence" over there being no other sites. Tehran responds that the document is "repetitive”. The U.S. announces "pressures" and also Russia, this time, the idea of new, tougher sanctions may become reality.

Beirut (AsiaNews) - Iran's explanations about the nature and objectives of its second nuclear site "requires further clarification" says the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in a classified report following its on the spot inspection.    

The document says that the Iranian statement on the new site "lowers the level of confidence" that there are no other undeclared sites. The report refers to the fact that the existence of the power station, built inside a mountain at about twenty kilometres from the holy city of Qom, was only confirmed by Iranian authorities in September, after revelations of U.S. sources. The IAEA argues that "the history of its design and its construction requires further clarification".  

This last statement refers to the fact that Tehran has argued that work on building the site began in 2007, but satellite photos show that it began in 2002, continued until 2004 and was incorporated in 2006. As for the reason for construction - the report talks about "questions about why it was built and how it figures in the Iranian nuclear program” - Iran has said that the centre serves as a reserve if the Natanz site was bombarded by “someone “.

In technical terms, the inspection revealed that the plant "was built to hold about 3 thousand centrifuges" for uranium enrichment. A senior official of the Agency explained that they are sufficient to allow Iran to build a warhead within a year. At the moment, he added, there are no centrifuges in Qom, but the plant is in an advanced state of construction. "  

Tehran has responded to the report with the affirmation of its chief negotiator Ali Asghar Soltaniyeh, that the document is "repetitive", that Iran has supplied all the necessary information on the site, and he denied that his country aims to build a nuclear weapon. "We - he continued – will proceed with the installation of equipment necessary and the plant will begin production in 2011”.

International reactions to the IAEA report are negative. The U.S. State Department spokesman, Ian Kelly, said that "Iran continues to refuse to comply fully with its international nuclear obligations" and that Washington will continue to "put pressure" on Tehran. A similar attitude is being taken by the other countries involved in negotiations with Iran. Russia itself, which until now had always curbed actions against Tehran, has announced that "technical reasons" are holding up the construction by the end of the year of the plant it is building in Bushehr in southern Iran. A statement in which some see Moscow’s "frustration" with Iran’s attitude .  The further tightening of international sanctions against Tehran is becoming an increasingly possibility. (PD)

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