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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

UN nuclear body suspends half of technical aid programs to Iran

RIA Novosti

08/03/2007 15:04 VIENNA, March 8 (RIA Novosti) - A 35-nation meeting of the UN nuclear agency moved Thursday to suspend nearly half of technical assistance programs to Iran over its defiance of international nuclear demands.

The Board of Governor of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) voted to shut down or freeze 23 out of 55 projects with the Islamic Republic suspected of pursing nuclear weapons under the cover of a civilian program.

The decision falls in line with U.N. Security Council's December 23 sanctions to punish Iran for defying demands that it halt its uranium enrichment activities.

The five permanent Security Council members are discussing additional sanctions against Tehran, which ignored the deadline to end enrichment last month. They could include a travel ban, the freeze of companies' and individuals' assets, an arms embargo and trade restrictions.

The countries also plan to continue diplomatic contacts with Tehran, which insists it has the right to conduct nuclear research for power generation purposes.

In a report submitted to the council February 23, IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei said Iran was continuing nuclear research, was working to build up its enrichment capacities by adding more centrifuges to its underground nuclear center in Natanz, and is building a heavy-water reactor.

Iran's ambassador to the IAEA said Thursday his country was continuing enrichment activities under UN control.

"The uranium enrichment program is being carried on at the Natanz center," Ali Asgar Soltaneih said as quoted by Iran's official IRNA agency. "All activities in the facility are under full IAEA control."

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