EU Accuses Iran of Having Nuke Documents

By GEORGE JAHN, Associated Press Writer 29 minutes ago

VIENNA, Austria - The European Union accused Iran on Thursday of having documents that serve no other purpose than showing how to produce nuclear warheads. It and the United States warned of U.N. Security Council action, even while Iran suggested it was considering a compromise meant to reduce tensions.

Britain, in a statement on behalf of the European Union, offered new negotiations meant to lessen concerns over Tehran's insistence that it must be in full control of uranium enrichment — a possible pathway to nuclear arms.

"But Iran should not conclude that this window of opportunity will remain open in all circumstances," said a statement read by Peter Jenkins, the chief British delegate to the International Atomic Energy Agency, outside a closed meeting of the agency's 35-nation board. Diplomats described the statement as a veiled threat of Security Council referral.

An earlier statement made available to The Associated Press was even more direct.

"Failure to make progress" on easing international concerns about Iran's nuclear program "will hasten the day when the board decides that a report to the Security Council must be made," said that statement, which was toned down before being delivered to the media.

In separate comments, the United States said that Iran cannot avoid referral to the Security Council for violating the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, but added that Washington and its European allies were delaying such a move to give Tehran a chance to defuse fears it wants to make nuclear arms.

"Iran must understand that the report to the Council is required and will be made at a time of this board's choosing," Gregory L. Shulte, the chief U.S. representative to the Vienna-based IAEA, told the agency's board.

But Washington, he said, is ready to wait in hopes that "Iran will reverse course and demonstrate" cooperation both with an IAEA probe of its nuclear activities and an international attempt to re-engage it in talks meant to reduce fears about its intentions.

In comments both to media and inside the closed board meeting, Jenkins focused on new revelations contained in a report drawn up for the board meeting by IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei, including a finding showing the Iranians in possession of what appeared to be drawings of the core of an atomic warhead.

In his statement to the board, also made available to the AP, Jenkins said that the documents have "no other application than the production of nuclear warheads."

"This reinforces earlier concerns aroused by possible indications of Iranian weaponization activity," he told the board, alluding to a series of findings over the past three years by IAEA experts suggesting that Iran may have experimented with procedures meant to make nuclear weapons.

The main issue is Iran's refusal to give up its right to enrichment, which can be used to generate power but also to make weapons-grade material for nuclear warheads. Iran says it wants only to make fuel, but international concern is growing that the program could be misused.

A plan floated in recent weeks foresees moving any Iranian enrichment plan to Russia. There, in theory, Moscow would supervise the process to make sure enrichment is only to fuel levels.

But Iran insists it wants to master the complete fuel cycle domestically. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters in Tehran on Wednesday that, while his country was willing to resume formal talks with key European powers on its nuclear program, "naturally we aim to have enrichment on Iran's territory."

On Thursday, however, a senior Iranian diplomat appeared to soften his country's stance.

"We are considering it," Mohammed Mehdi Akhounzadeh Basti, the chief Iranian delegate to the IAEA, told The AP when asked about the plan to move Iran's enrichment program to Russia.

A separate Iranian statement prepared for the board meeting accused the "U.S. and terrorist groups" of fabricating "false allegations against Iran" in suggesting it was interested in nuclear arms.

It described the find of the warhead documents as a "minor issue" that should not detract from the "tremendous progress achieved by (the) joint cooperation of (the) IAEA and Iran" in clearing up questions about Tehran's nuclear program.