VIENNA, Austria – Iran (search) handed the U.N. (search) nuclear agency documents on its past atomic energy activities on Thursday, but the dossier apparently did not include the origin of traces of weapons-grade uranium found in the country.
"We have submitted a report fully disclosing all our past activities in the nuclear field," Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran's representations about Iran's nuclear activities. "I was assured that the report I got today is a comprehensive and accurate declaration," he said.
But in comments to The Associated Press, Salehi indicated the origin of traces of highly enriched weapons-grade uranium found in at least two different sites inside the country was not in the package.
Diplomats speaking on condition of anonymity said earlier this week that Iran was expected to provide the origin of the traces, which ElBaradei has called the most troubling aspect of Tehran's nuclear activities.
Iran insists the contamination, found in environmental samples taken by agency experts, was imported on equipment it uses for peaceful nuclear purposes and that it does not know the country of origin because the equipment was purchased through third parties.
"How can you give the (equipment's) origin ... if you have taken it from the intermediaries on the foreign market?" Salehi said.
The agency needs to match traces found inside Iran to isotope samples from the country the contaminated equipment came from as a way of testing the assertion that enrichment to weapons levels took place outside Iran. If the samples do not match, arguments by the United States and its allies that the high enrichment took place inside Iran as part of an arms program would be greatly strengthened.
The IAEA (search)'s board of governors meets Nov. 20. If it finds that suspicions remain about a possible weapons program, it could find Iran in violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. That would mean U.N. Security Council involvement and possible international sanctions.
Iran previously had insisted it would continue enriching uranium to non-weapons levels as part of a program it says is aimed only at producing electricity.
On Tuesday, Iran told the foreign ministers of Britain, Germany and France that they would suspend uranium enrichment and sign a protocol allowing spot checks of its nuclear programs. ElBaradei said Thursday he was expecting a letter "in the next few days ... agreeing to the conclusion" of the additional protocol.
Iran has allowed IAEA inspectors to view some sites, including at least one military facility, but for weeks has hesitated at making a full commitment to the IAEA demands.
The agreement giving U.N. inspectors unrestricted access to Iran's nuclear facilities allows the country to maintain its "national dignity," an Iranian government official said Thursday.
Massoumeh Ebtekar, one of Iran's six vice presidents, said on a visit to Vienna that the agreement was "a sign of our sincere commitment to the peaceful use of nuclear technologies."
"It's a sign of commitment to our national dignity and our right to use these technologies in a peaceful manner," Ebtekar said after meeting with Austrian President Thomas Klestil.
She said the Iranian government views the agreement as "totally binding" and described it as "a sign of our willingness to cooperate and to work with the IAEA."