U.N. nuclear agency hails Iran cooperation
The U.N. nuclear agency said Thursday that Iran was producing less nuclear fuel than expected and hailed Tehran for "a significant step forward" in explaining past atomic actions that have raised suspicions. At the same time, the report confirmed that Iran continued to expand its uranium enrichment program.
Still, U.N. officials said, both enrichment and the building of a plutonium-producing reactor was continuing more slowly than expected.
Iran promptly touted the report as supporting its stand that the U.S.-led calls for a third round U.N. Security Council sanctions on Iran over its refusal to halt uranium enrichment were unjustified.
"This report ended all the baseless U.S. accusations against Iran," Mohammad Saeedi, deputy head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, was quoted as saying by the state IRNA news agency. "Once again the agency confirmed validity of Iran's stances," he said, adding that "the U.S. had deceived the world over Iran's nuclear activities by claiming that Iran was reprocessing plutonium."
International Atomic Energy Agency Deputy Director General Olli Heinonen, who brokered the cooperation deal with Iran, highlighted the importance of the agreement, noting that Tehran's past refusal to answer the IAEA's questions triggered Security Council sanctions in the first place. But, according to the AP, he cautioned that Iran still needed to fully implement its commitments, telling reporters that "the key is that Iran ... provides the information that we need" in a time frame that results in clarity about Iran's past suspicious activities by year's end.
But France, a close U.S. ally on Iran, said cooperation by Tehran was not enough to eliminate the threat of new U.N. penalties. "As long as there is not a clear ... decision from Iran about the suspension of activities linked to enrichment, we will pursue ... looking into a third sanctions resolution," French Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Pascale Andreani said in Paris.