IAEA nixed delicate report on Iran nuclear program

UN agency reportedly decided against publishing information that would harm negotiations between Tehran and world powers

Illustrative: IAEA inspectors at Iran's nuclear power plant in Natanz on January 20, 2014. (IRNA/AFP Kazem Ghane/File)
Illustrative: IAEA inspectors at Iran's nuclear power plant in Natanz on January 20, 2014. (IRNA/AFP Kazem Ghane/File)

A UN report on Iran’s nuclear program was shelved by the International Atomic Energy Agency for fear that publicizing sensitive information contained within the report would anger Tehran and harm the international community’s efforts to reach an interim agreement with the Islamic Republic, Reuters reported Thursday.

Sources familiar with the subject told the news agency that the IAEA had planned last year to issue the report, which contained what one source called worrying information about the state of Iran’s nuclear program. This may have included new information on the possible military aspects of the program.

But officials decided against it after Iran and Western powers announced they would begin negotiations over Tehran’s nuclear aspirations.

The IAEA did not respond to the claims, according to Reuters.

Earlier this month, the UN nuclear agency reported that Iran is abiding by its commitments under the interim pact.

Among other findings, the agency noted that Iran’s stockpile of nuclear material that can be turned quickly into the fissile core of a nuclear warhead had diminished by nearly 20 percent to 161 kilograms (355 pounds) under the first-step agreement, which took effect last month.

However, the IAEA report showed that the interim agreement did not alter “Iran’s military nuclear program,” and the report “did not address the military components of Iran’s nuclear program,” Israeli government officials said in a statement.

The IAEA “cannot confirm that Iran’s nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only,” and the report shows that “Iran consistently continues to violate UN Security Council and IAEA Board of Governors decisions” with regards to the program, the officials noted.

In the report, the IAEA commended Iran’s “positive step forward” in granting greater access to nuclear facilities. But alluding to the agency’s attempts to probe suspicions that Tehran worked secretly on nuclear weapons, the IAEA said “much remains to be done to resolve all outstanding issues.”

“The bottom line” is that in return for a “significant easing of sanctions against Iran,” Tehran has not made any “significant concessions” in return, the Israeli officials noted.

Under an interim agreement which was signed between Tehran and the P5+1 powers in November and which came into effect January 20, Iran agreed to curb or freeze parts of its nuclear program for six months in exchange for limited sanctions relief.

Iran also agreed not to increase its stockpile of lower-enriched uranium and not to set up new centrifuges at its enrichment plants, as well as to allow rigorous oversight by the UN nuclear agency.

The sides are set to reconvene in Vienna on March 17, after having met in the Austrian capital last week.

AFP and the Associated Press contributed to this report

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