JERUSALEM, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Israel urged the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency on Friday to go public with all information it has regarding suspicions that Iran researched how to build an atomic bomb.
The statement followed a Reuters report on Thursday, citing sources familiar with the matter, that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) last year planned a major report on Iran that might have revealed more of its alleged bomb-relevant research, but held off as the Islamic Republic’s relations with the outside world thawed.
The sources told Reuters there was no way of knowing what information collected by the IAEA might have been incorporated in such a new document, although one said it could have added to worries about Tehran’s activities.
There was no immediate comment from the IAEA.
Israel disapproves of the last half-year’s Western rapprochement with its arch-foe, arguing that Iran has won sanctions relief while retaining the infrastructure to pursue nuclear weapons. Iran says its atomic aspirations are peaceful.
“The role of the IAEA is to expose to the international community all information regarding military aspects of the Iranian nuclear project, and not to withhold it for reasons of diplomatic sensitivity,” Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz said in a statement.
“Because the matter of the PMD (possible military dimensions) is so important to a final deal with Iran, I call on the IAEA to complete and publish the report at the earliest opportunity,” he said.
Israel is widely assumed to have the region’s only nuclear arsenal. It has representatives in the IAEA but, unlike Iran, has not signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Sources told Reuters the planned IAEA report would probably have amounted to a wider review of the Iranian nuclear file, including PMD and other outstanding issues. They said the idea was raised internally when the IAEA’s long-running efforts to get Iran to cooperate with its investigation appeared completely deadlocked in mid-2013.
But with a new leadership in Tehran trying to end its international isolation, Iran and the IAEA agreed last November a step-by-step transparency pact to help allay concerns about its atomic activities.
This was sealed shortly before a breakthrough November deal between Tehran and the six powers - the United States, Russia, France, Germany, Britain and China - which is meant to be capped by a final accord in July.
In follow-up talks on Feb. 8-9, Iran agreed for the first time to address one of many PMD issues in the 2011 report, regarding so-called exploding bridge wire detonators, which can have both civilian and military applications.
The IAEA’s dossier in November 2011 contained a trove of intelligence indicating past activity in Iran which could be used for developing nuclear weapons, some of which it said might still be continuing. Iran rejected the allegations as fabricated and baseless.
Since then, the Vienna-based U.N. watchdog has said it obtained more information that backs up its analysis in the 2011 document, but has not given details. (Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Mark Heinrich)