Bush on warpath over UN's shock report on Iran A-bomb
By Con Coughlin
America will tomorrow demand that the United Nations takes urgent action to prevent Iran acquiring the atom bomb as fears mount that Teheran is on course to develop a nuclear weapons capability within two years.
United States officials will make the demand at a special meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna that has been arranged to consider a 10-page report by Mohammed al-Baradei, the agency's director-general, into the state of Iran's nuclear programme.
Washington has already expressed deep concern about the discovery of traces of weapons grade uranium found in soil samples taken from one of Iran's top secret nuclear facilities last July.
In his report, a copy of which has been obtained by The Telegraph, Mr al-Baradei lists serious concerns raised by UN weapons inspectors about the scope of Iran's nuclear programme, which Teheran continues to insist is aimed at developing a nuclear power industry.
Inspectors are particularly concerned about activity at a nuclear complex at Natanz, in central Iran, which has sophisticated equipment for enriching uranium to weapons grade standard.
Even though the complex was built five years ago, the Iranian authorities only confirmed its existence to the IAEA earlier this year after its location was revealed by Iranian exiles.
The report also details the inspectors' concerns about the development of a heavy water facility at Arak, which they believe could help Iran to manufacture weapons grade uranium.
Mr al-Baradei writes in the report's conclusion that "there remain a number of important outstanding issues, particularly with regard to Iran's enrichment programme, that require urgent resolution".
US officials, however, are concerned that Mr al-Baradei, who this year argued in favour of UN inspectors being given more time to locate Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction, will try to play down the significance of the recent discoveries made in Iran.
One American closely involved in monitoring Iran's nuclear programme said: "The big difference between Iraq and Iran is that the Iranians now have the ability to develop an atom bomb within two years. The time has come to force the Iranians to come clean about their real intentions."
Although Mr al-Baradei admits that the Iranians have deployed a variety of delaying tactics to prevent UN inspectors gaining access to secret nuclear facilities, he believes that they should be given more time to comply with their obligations under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.
American officials fear that many Europeans on the IAEA's 35-member board of governors, some of whose countries have lucrative trade ties with Teheran, will back Mr al-Baradei's position. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/09/07/wiran07.xml&sSheet=/news/2003/09/07/ixnewstop.html&secureRefresh=true&_requestid=43073