Vienna, Oct. 23 (Reuters): Iran today acknowledged having been “discreet” about its nuclear programme in the past but said it had no more secrets after giving the UN what it called a full declaration of all its nuclear activities.
The head of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Mohamed ElBaradei, said Iran’s ambassador to the IAEA, Ali Akbar Salehi, delivered the declaration eight days ahead of an IAEA deadline for Iran to prove it has no secret atomic weapons programme as Washington alleges.
“I was assured that the report I got today is a comprehensive and accurate declaration,” ElBaradei said. “It is a large set of documents. We obviously have to start our verification activities (but) it is going to take us time to go through all these documents and reconstruct the full history of the programme,” he said.
Salehi declined to give any details about the declaration, a stack of papers in a binder about one-and-a-half inches thick. “We have submitted a report that fully discloses our past activities, peaceful activities, in the nuclear field,” he said. However, he said the secretive nature of some of Iran’s activities was a natural response to sanctions unfairly imposed on the Islamic republic.
“The important thing to note is that Iran had to do some of its activities very discreetly because of the sanctions that have been imposed on Iran for the past 25 years,” Salehi said, adding they were “legal activities”.
“Nevertheless (Iran) had to do them discreetly,” he said.
Submission of the report meets a key demand of the Vienna-based IAEA, which set the October 31 deadline.
”I hope we will come to the conclusion that we have seen all past nuclear activities in Iran and that all materials and activities in Iran are under (IAEA) safeguards,” ElBaradei said.
”AXIS OF PROVIDENCE”
The IAEA is particularly keen to have details about the origin of uranium enrichment centrifuge parts, which Iran says it bought on the black market and blames for contaminating two Iranian sites where the IAEA found traces of bomb-grade uranium.
”We should know the origin of materials and equipment to verify the Iranian statement that this (enriched uranium) was the result of contamination,” ElBaradei said.
But Salehi said it may be impossible to trace their origins, as the parts were bought through“intermediaries”.
Salehi reiterated his country's commitment to a deal brokered by the foreign ministers of Britain, France and Germany in Tehran on Tuesday, under which Iran pledged to accept tougher IAEA inspections and suspend its uranium enrichment activities.
In a play on U.S. President George W. Bush's description of Iran, North Korea and pre-war Iraq as an“axis of evil”, Salehi said Iran and Europe had joined forces in an“axis of providence” based on dialogue and mutual respect.
Iran's Supreme National Security Council chief Hassan Rohani declared that the oil-rich state was committed to atomic energy.
”We will never abandon nuclear technology,” Rohani told the ISNA student news agency in Tehran, adding that Iran would only stop enriching uranium temporarily.“Whenever Iran feels it is necessary, we will restart.”
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin briefed his Russian counterpart Igor Ivanov on this week's Tehran visit on Thursday and both men expressed their satisfaction with Iran's declaration, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. (Additional reporting by Parisa Hafezi in Tehran)