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Iran still concealingits nuclear plans, says watchdog

IRAN is playing cat and mouse with the UN nuclear watchdog agency about "possible military dimensions" to its suspect nuclear programme, it was claimed last night.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) made the claim as it urged the regime to clarify the role of a foreign explosives expert and shed light on other murky issues.

Reacting to the claims a senior Iranian envoy denounced the assessment as "fabrication", insisting his country has gone out of its way to be transparent and cooperative.

In its latest report, the agency said it has pressed the Islamic Republic to clarify its uranium enrichment activities and reassure the world that it's not trying to build an atomic weapon.

Iran insists its nuclear programme is peaceful and geared solely toward generating electricity.

Ahead of talks between the United States, Britain, China, France, Germany and Russia, on Iran on September 2, the IAEA acknowledged that Tehran has been producing nuclear fuel at a slower rate and has allowed UN inspectors broader access to its main nuclear complex in the southern city of Natanz.

But the Vienna-based agency delivered a blunt assessment: "Iran has not suspended its enrichment-related activities.''

"There remain a number of outstanding issues which give rise to concerns and which need to be clarified to exclude the existence of possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear programme," it said.

The IAEA "does not consider that Iran has adequately addressed the substance of the issues, having focused instead on the style and form. . . providing limited answers and simple denials".

Iran's chief representative to the IAEA, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, said he found the report "very frustrating" and angrily suggested that US intelligence was working to undermine Tehran's credibility.

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The report raised the spectre of harsher international sanctions against Iran for not answering lingering questions about its nuclear activities.

The UN Security Council has imposed sanctions against Iran three times since 2006 for its refusal to freeze uranium enrichment.

The country has also been placed on an international watch list to help limit the importation of nuclear materials.

The IAEA also chided Syria for not fully cooperating on efforts to clear up questions about whether it was trying to build a nuclear complex at a desert site bombed by Israel in 2007.

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