IAEA Report: Iran Admits Importing Centrifuge Parts

KRAKOW, Poland -- In a reversal, Iran has acknowledged importing parts for advanced centrifuges that can be used to enrich uranium, the UN atomic watchdog agency said in a confidential report obtained by The Associated Press.

The report by the head of the UN atomic watchdog agency credited Iran with more nuclear openness but said questions remained about nearly two decades of covert activities first revealed nearly two years ago.

The dossier was issued for the June 14 meeting of the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors that has wrestled for more than a year about what to do about what the United States and its allies say is a weapons program.

Uranium enrichment is one way to make nuclear warheads, although the process can also be used to generate power, depending on the degree of enrichment.

In an interview before the report was leaked Tuesday, U.S. Undersecretary of State John R. Bolton accused Tehran of engaging in "denial and deception."

"We are convinced that they are pursuing a clandestine program to acquire nuclear weapons," he said.

Bolton, who was at a review conference of the U.S.-launched Proliferation Security Initiative to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction, said Washington was determined to have Tehran answer to the U.N. Security Council.

While the report did not appear critical enough of Iran to marshal strong support at the IAEA board meeting for such a move, it also was far from the clean bill of health Tehran had hoped for in making a case that the books should be closed on its nuclear activities.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the IAEA chief, said earlier Tuesday his agency had not found proof to date of a concrete link between Iran's nuclear activities and its military program, but "it was premature to make a judgment."

Iran has rejected the U.S. allegations, saying its nuclear program is geared only toward generating electricity.

Concerns over Iran's nuclear program mounted after IAEA inspectors found traces of highly enriched uranium at two Iranian sites. Iran said the uranium was already on equipment imported from abroad.

But the report leaked Tuesday noted continued inconsistencies, including different levels of uranium enrichment and varying isotope "fingerprints" -- both casting doubt on Tehran's assertion that the traces of enriched uranium were already on equipment it bought second hand from abroad.