Wednesday, September 9, 2009

U.S. 'very worried' about Iran nuclear capability

Mohamed ElBaradei left out evidence of Iran bomb, France claims

September 8, 2009

This is Mohamed ElBaradei’s last year addressing the annual conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

He will not be universally missed. Long chided for being soft on Iran, he goes into this year’s conference amid a diplomatic storm over whether he has deliberately hidden evidence of Iran’s work on a nuclear bomb.

France and Israel have led the charge against Dr ElBaradei, saying that his latest report on Iran’s nuclear programme omitted evidence that the agency had been given about an alleged covert weaponisation plan.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said that the report did not reflect all that the agency knew about Iran’s “efforts to continue to pursue its military programme”.

France went farther, alleging the existence of an unpublished annexe that addresses the evidence that Iran may be building an atom bomb.

Bernard Kouchner, the French Foreign Minister, said that France had attended a technical briefing that covered the material, so was surprised to find it missing from the report.

“In the annexes there are specifically elements which enable us to ask about the reality of an atomic bomb,” he said “There are issues of warheads, of transport.”

The published section of the report focused more on the positive, noting that Iran had slowed its production of enriched uranium and had agreed to closer monitoring of its plant.

Western intelligence agencies had given the IAEA material suggesting that Tehran secretly combined uranium processing, airborne high-explosive tests and efforts to revamp a missile cone in a way that would fit a nuclear warhead.

The agency described the material as compelling and insisted that Iran clarify the matter rather than reject it as fabricated evidence. It is likely, however, that it did not meet the standards of proof required for inclusion in the report.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said last night: “If the IAEA has further substantive information, we would hope that it would make such information available.”

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