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International Atomic Energy Agency spokesman comments on LA Times report on Iran

A spokesman for the international nuclear watchdog, the Vienaa-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Lothar Wedekind, commented in Vienna on Monday on a report by the Los Angeles Times that Iran is in the process of producing a nuclear bomb, IRNA reported.

"The IAEA work is specialized and technical and it is not our responsibility to respond to any published press news," Wedekind told IRNA.

"Nuclear experts of the agency are examining various issues at the invitation of Iran and a team of such experts have left for Iran today (Monday)," he added.

"Iran is striving to become the world's next nuclear power and appears to be in the late stages of developing the capacity to build a nuclear bomb," said the Los Angeles Times report in its Monday edition, adding that its assessment is based on the results of an independent probe.

The newspaper said its three-month investigation drew on previously secret reports, international officials, independent experts, Iranian exiles and intelligence sources and uncovered strong evidence that Iran's nuclear energy program masked a military undertaking.

"Scientists from Russia, China, North Korea and Pakistan, and technology have propelled Iran's nuclear program much closer to producing a bomb than Iraq ever was," the report further said.

The LA Times reported the report in spite of the fact that various groups of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the only agency responsible for monitoring nuclear activities, have visited Iran and have given reports on Iran's peaceful nuclear activities.

A team of experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) headed for Tehran Monday to brief Iranian officials on the technical details of the Additional Protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which it is urged to sign.

The IAEA spokesman in Vienna, Lothar Wedekind, said that another team will also be coming to Iran next week after the first team has returned.

The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency was founded in 1975 under the auspices of the United Nations to ensure the peaceful use of nuclear energy. Currently, it has 135 signatory states committed to this objective.

... Payvand News - 8/4/03 ... --

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