- The Washington Times - Friday, June 18, 2004

VIENNA, Austria — The International Atomic Energy Agency rebuked Iran yesterday for past cover-ups of its nuclear program and warned the Islamic republic it has little time left to disprove it has a nuclear weapons program.

The resolution, adopted unanimously by the IAEA’s 35-member board of governors, did not impose a deadline or directly threaten sanctions. But its harsh wording amounted to substantial pressure on Iran to clear up suspicions about a nuclear program that was covert for nearly 20 years until discovered two years ago.

U.S. Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton welcomed the tough text and said it will hinder Iran’s efforts to “deceive and obstruct” agency inspectors.

Bristling at the tone of the resolution, Iran threatened retaliation, suggesting it could reconsider its plans to suspend uranium enrichment — the process that can make both energy or nuclear warheads.

The final document — submitted by Germany, France and Britain after days of diplomatic maneuvering over the wording — said the IAEA “deplores” that “Iran’s cooperation has not been as full, timely and proactive as it should have been.”

It said that since Iran’s undeclared program came to light two years ago, “a number of questions remain outstanding.”

The U.N. nuclear watchdog’s resolution also noted that “with the passage of time,” Iran’s cooperation with the IAEA probe was becoming more important.

A U.S. official suggested that phrase could help Washington impose a deadline for Tehran, setting the stage for U.N. Security Council involvement at the next scheduled meeting in September.

Washington, which believes Iran is pursuing a secret nuclear weapons program, wants the IAEA to declare the country in breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and refer the case to the Security Council, which may impose sanctions.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful energy purposes, not geared toward making bombs.

In Washington, State Department deputy spokesman Adam Ereli said the administration welcomed the resolution.

“It maintains strong pressure on Iran to comply with its non-proliferation treaty safeguards obligations and to cooperate fully with the IAEA,” he said.

In response, Iranian delegate Amir Zamaninia warned his country was reviewing its “voluntary confidence-building measures,” an indication that Iran might rethink the suspension of its uranium enrichment activities.

The increased pressure on Iran coincided with new evidence that it might still be hiding nuclear activities. Diplomats say the IAEA is looking into accusations that Iran was razing parts of a restricted area next to a military complex in a Tehran suburb.

Satellite photos showed several buildings had been destroyed and topsoil had been removed at Lavizan Shiyan, one diplomat said. Iranian delegate Hossein Mousavian denied a cover-up and said the IAEA was free to see the site. “There is nothing there,” he said.

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