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U.S. to seek IAEA action on Iran nukes

From Elise Labott

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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The Bush administration will push the International Atomic Energy Agency next week to take action against Iran over its nuclear program, the State Department said Thursday.

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said "we certainly think that the board of governors at the IAEA needs to look closely at the (Director General Mohamed ElBaradei's) report on Iran, needs to look closely at the situation on Iran, and needs to take appropriate action."

Boucher's comments come ahead of the IAEA's Board of Governor's meeting in Vienna September 8, where concerns over Iran's nuclear program are expected to be a major part of the discussions.

"The Board can take action of various kinds to focus on the matter," Boucher said, without elaborating what those actions should include.

One move the United Nations organization could make is to issue a resolution accusing Iran of non-compliance with its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which would trigger a report to the U.N. Security Council.

The United States has been urging other governments to press the IAEA to report Iran's non-compliance, including Tehran's refusal to submit its nuclear program to intrusive inspections by the IAEA.

The United States has accused Iran of secretly developing a nuclear weapons program. Iran insists that its nuclear program is peaceful and aimed at producing 6,000 megawatts of electricity, an amount it says will be needed in the country in 20 years time.

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The IAEA said in a report on Iran's nuclear activity that traces of uranium, greater than what is needed for a civilian power program, were found on Iranian nuclear equipment, but Tehran said the equipment was contaminated when it was purchased from a third country.

Undersecretary for Arms Control John Bolton has been meeting with Russian officials in Moscow last week and this week in Paris on the sidelines of a meeting of the Proliferation Security Initiative, a group of nations working to curb proliferation of weapons technology.

The IAEA's report said the agency has not determined whether Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons.

Iran has said it was willing to sign an additional protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty allowing IAEA inspectors to conduct snap inspections, but has yet to do so. Iranian officials say they want guarantees that those inspections would not violate their sovereignty, and they want the right to receive nuclear technology from more developed nations in return.

Iran has provided information and access to inspectors slowly and incrementally at times, the IAEA inspectors concluded in the report, and "some of the information was in contrast to that previously provided by Iran." But they said Iran has demonstrated an increased degree of cooperation with inspectors.

In June, the IAEA's 35-nation governing board criticized Iran for failing to report some of its nuclear material and facilities, raising concerns in the international community -- particularly Washington -- about its nuclear ambitions.

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