VIENNA — The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency singled out Iran for the first time yesterday as a special case because of suspicions it is hiding experimental nuclear weapons programs.
A senior Iranian envoy said Israel was the true threat to Mideast peace.
The statement by IAEA chief Yukiya Amano at the start of the agency’s 35-nation board meeting reflected international concern about Iran’s nuclear agenda, days before the UN Security Council is expected to punish Tehran for its refusal to heed demands to curb its activities.
It also was in keeping with the tougher line taken by Amano on Iran compared with his predecessor, Mohamed ElBaradei, who was occasionally criticized by the United States and other Western nations for a perceived reluctance to take Iran to task.
Iran is stonewalling IAEA attempts to follow up on intelligence from the United States and other nations that suggests Tehran has hidden nuclear weapons experiments from the world. The planned fourth set of UN sanctions reflects concerns about such programs, plus Tehran’s refusal to freeze uranium enrichment, which Iran says it wants to develop as a fuel source, but which can also be used to make nuclear warheads.
“Iran is a special case because, among other things, of the existence of issues related to the possible military dimensions to its nuclear program,’’ Amano told the closed meeting in comments made available to reporters. “Iran has not provided the necessary cooperation to permit the agency to confirm that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.’’