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Iran continues defiance over nuclear program, U.N. agency reports

February 24, 2012 |  9:34 am

REPORTING FROM WASHINGTON -- Iran is continuing to defy the international community by refusing to answer key questions about its nuclear program, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog agency declared in a report issued Friday.

“As Iran is not providing the necessary cooperation ... the agency is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities,” the International Atomic Energy Agency’s director general, Yukiya Amano, wrote in a quarterly report to his Board of Governors.

Amano added that the IAEA “continues to have serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program,” and reported that Iranian officials refused to allow IAEA inspectors to visit the Parchin military base on two recent trips.

“No agreement was reached with Iran on a structured approach to resolving all outstanding issues in connection with Iran’s nuclear program,” the report said.

In an addition to the previous quarterly report, published in November, Amano made public information detailing the agency’s concerns about the possibility that Iran may be secretly working to build a nuclear weapon.  The report did not offer proof of an illicit military program, but said Iran needed to answer numerous questions to help resolve the issue.

Iran's leaders ordered a halt to an extensive nuclear program in 2003, the November report said, but concluded that clandestine work on high-speed detonators and other weapons-related research "may still be ongoing." The November report was based on more than 1,000 pages of documents, satellite photos and other intelligence supplied by 10 member nations.

Amano released a strongly worded statement Wednesday night after his team was denied access to Parchin.

"It is disappointing that Iran did not accept our request to visit Parchin," he said in the statement. "We engaged in a constructive spirit, but no agreement was reached."

In 2000, Iran built a large explosives containment vessel at Parchin to conduct hydrodynamic experiments, the November report said. Those experiments are "strong indicators of possible weapon development,” the report said.

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 -- Ken Dilanian

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