Iran may still be hiding something atomic

Iran is not being fully open with U.N. inspectors about its nuclear program and may still be hiding something from the international community, Germany's designated foreign minister said on Thursday.

"There is a lack of transparency. That is clear," Frank-Walter Steinmeier said of Iran at a conference on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. "We still have some suspicions that there are developments being pursued (by Iran) that go against this principle."

Iran concealed its uranium enrichment program, which could be used to develop atomic weapons, from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for 18 years, fuelling fears among Western countries that Tehran has a covert nuclear weapons program.

Iran denies pursuing nuclear weapons and insists its nuclear program is aimed solely at the peaceful generation of electricity. It has also refused a U.S.-backed offer by Germany, France and Britain of political and economic incentives if it scraps its uranium enrichment program.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei hopes a deal will be reached within days that will defuse the standoff over Iran's nuclear program, the nuclear watchdog said in a statement issued at its Vienna headquarters.

Steinmeier, who is expected formally to replace outgoing Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer later this month, said Tehran had a right to a peaceful nuclear energy program but must assure the world that it is not pursuing atom bombs, Reuters informs.


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