U.N. nuke body admits error on Iran

June 17, 2004 at 10:51 AM
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WASHINGTON, June 17 (UPI) -- The U.N. nuclear watchdog acknowledged Thursday it wrongly accused Iran of withholding information on its nuclear weapons program.

Mohammed ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said the mistake was technical and could have been corrected by Iran.

"You have to understand. We work with thousands of papers and thousands of sites," he said. "Everybody makes mistakes."

In its June 1 report, the IAEA said Iran had not come clean until April that it bought parts for advanced P-2 centrifuges, which can be used to purify uranium in both nuclear power plants and weapons. This week, Iran produced a tape of the Iranian businessmen who imported the parts telling the IAEA of the purchase in January.

ElBaradei said the businessman's English "was not very clear."

The development lends strength to Iran's case that an IAEA resolution condemning it should be softened.

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes. The United States insists Tehran is pursuing nuclear weapons.

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