Sources: UN watchdog hiding evidence on Iran nuclear program
Western diplomats, Israeli officials say IAEA self-censored report from inspectors in the Islamic republic.
The world's nuclear weapons watchdog is hiding data on Iran's drive to obtain nuclear arms, senior Western diplomats and Israeli officials told Haaretz.
The officials and diplomats said that the International Atomic Energy Agency under Director General Mohamed ElBaradei was refraining from publishing evidence obtained by its inspectors over the past few months that indicate Iran was pursuing information about weaponization efforts and a military nuclear program.
ElBaradei, who will soon vacate his post, has said that the agency does not have any evidence that suggests Iran is developing a nuclear weapon.
But the sources told Haaretz that the new evidence was submitted to the IAEA in a classified annex written by its inspectors in the Islamic Republic. The report was said to have been signed by the head of the IAEA team in Iran.
The classified report, according to the sources, was not incorporated into the agency's published reports. The details, they said, were censored by senior officials of the IAEA in the organization's Vienna headquarters.
American, French, British and German senior officials have recently pressured ElBaradei to publish the information next month in a report due to be released at the organization's general conference.
"We expect the details to appear in the new report and to be made public," a senior Western diplomat told Haaretz.
The efforts to release the allegedly censored report is being handled in Israel by Dr. Shaul Horev, director general of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, and the Foreign Ministry. Asked about this sensitive subject, several Israeli diplomats declined to comment. The Prime Minister's Bureau also declined to comment, but the report was not denied.
Israel has been striving to pressure the IAEA through friendly nations and have it release the censored annex. It hopes to prove that the Iranian effort to develop nuclear weapons is continuing, contrary to claims that Tehran stopped its nuclear program in 2003. A confirmation of these suspicion would oblige the international community to enact "paralyzing sanctions" on Iran.
Throughout his term, Israel has accused ElBaradei of not tackling the Iranian nuclear issue with sufficient determination. As the end of his term in December nears, Israeli diplomats are concerned that he will become less responsive and continue to hide the classified report.
Jerusalem is hoping, however, that his successor, Japanese diplomat Yukiya Amano, will take up a tougher line on the Iranian nuclear program.
In its recent references to Iran, the IAEA criticized Iran for barring inspectors from its nuclear facilities, but did not accuse Tehran of developing nuclear weapons. Most of the reports were concerned with efforts to enrich uranium or to produce heavy water, without making conclusions as to where these resources might be applied.
The international community is expected to examine the issue of nuclear proliferation during three major international conferences over the next six months.
On September 14, the IAEA general convention will commence in Vienna, where the next report on the Iranian nuclear program will be officially presented.
On September 24, the UN Security Council will meet for a special discussion of weapon control and nuclear weapons proliferation, at the initiative of U.S. President Barack Obama. Obama is also calling an international conference on the security of nuclear installations in Washington on March 9, 2010.