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China reveals Iran’s nuclear secrets to UN

by Damien McEl­roy


Chi­na has betrayed one its clos­est allies by pro­vid­ing the Unit­ed Nations with intel­li­gence on Iran’s efforts to acquire nuclear tech­nol­o­gy, diplo­mats have revealed.

Con­cern over Tehran’s secre­tive research pro­gramme has increased in recent weeks after offi­cials at the Inter­na­tion­al Atom­ic Ener­gy Agency (IAEA), the UN’s nuclear watch­dog, dis­cov­ered that Iran had obtained infor­ma­tion on how to man­u­fac­ture nuclear-armed weapons.

Chi­na reveals Iran’s nuclear secrets to UN inspec­tors
A heavy-water nuclear facil­i­ty in Arak and a secu­ri­ty guard at an Iran­ian nuclear enrich­ment facil­i­ty

Bei­jing is believed to have decid­ed to assist the inspec­tors after doc­u­ments seized from Iran­ian offi­cials includ­ed blue­prints for “shap­ing” ura­ni­um met­al into war­heads, the test­ing of high explo­sives used to det­o­nate radioac­tive mate­r­i­al and the pro­cure­ment of dual-use tech­nol­o­gy.

Much of the new mate­r­i­al was pre­sent­ed to the gov­er­nors of the Vien­na-based IAEA in Feb­ru­ary. That meet­ing is said to have trig­gered Chi­na’s change of heart.

Pres­i­dent Ahmadine­jad on Nation­al Nuclear Day: Chi­na reveals Iran’s nuclear secrets to UN inspec­tors
Ahmadine­jad on Nation­al Nuclear Day

Diplo­mats described Bei­jing’s deci­sion to pro­vide mate­r­i­al relat­ed to Iran to the IAEA as a poten­tial­ly sig­nif­i­cant break­through.

Chi­nese designs for cen­trifuges that refine ura­ni­um into a “weaponised” state have been found in Iran but these are thought to have come through a net­work con­trolled by the dis­graced Pak­istani sci­en­tist AQ Khan.

John Bolton, the for­mer Amer­i­can ambas­sador to the Unit­ed Nations, said sus­pi­cions over the leak­age of tech­nol­o­gy from Chi­na to Iran had long cen­tred on ura­ni­um enrich­ment tech­nol­o­gy and their bilat­er­al bal­lis­tic mis­sile trade.

A spokesman for the IAEA said it did not com­ment on intel­li­gence it received from its mem­bers.

Bei­jing has long-estab­lished ties with Iran’s cler­i­cal regime and has emerged as one of the coun­try’s biggest cus­tomers for oil and gas.

It has allied itself with Tehran’s attempts to pre­vent the IAEA refer­ring Iran to the UN Secu­ri­ty Coun­cil, which can impose sanc­tions.

Chi­na has not used its veto pow­ers to block US and British spon­sored sanc­tions but it has ensured the mea­sures were watered down.

The coun­cil has levied three rounds of finan­cial sanc­tions on Iran in an attempt to force the coun­try to declare all its nuclear activ­i­ties.

IAEA weapons inspec­tors report that Iran has not pro­vid­ed full co-oper­a­tion.

An Amer­i­can intel­li­gence assess­ment judged it like­ly that Iran stopped efforts to pro­duce a nuclear weapon in 2003 but there are strong fears it has resumed the work under Pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ahmadine­jad.

Michael Hay­den, the direc­tor of the CIA, said this week that he believed that Iran is still devel­op­ing a nuclear bomb.

Mean­while, Israel has accused Iran of set­ting up lis­ten­ing sta­tions in Syr­ia to eaves­drop on its mil­i­tary com­mu­ni­ca­tions net­work.


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