Israel says UN covering up Iran’s nuclear arms drive

It cited unnamed Israeli officials as saying the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was refraining from publishing data obtained in recent months that indicates Iran is pursing information about weaponisation efforts and a military nuclear programme.

IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, who is to vacate his post in December, has said the UN watchdog does not have any evidence suggesting Iran is developing a nuclear weapons programme.

But Haaretz cited officials as saying the new evidence was presented to the IAEA in a classified annex written by its inspectors and said to have been signed by the head of the inspection team in Iran.

The document was not included in the final report, it said.

British, French, German and US senior officials have recently pressured ElBaradei to publish the information, the newspaper said.

Israel has often criticised ElBaradei in the past, accusing him of being lax towards Iran, and asked in 2007 that he be fired.

A government spokesman declined to comment on the report.

Widely considered to be the Middle East’s sole if undeclared nuclear armed power, Israel, along with Washington suspects Iran of trying to develop atomic weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear programme, a charge Tehran denies.

Israel considers the Islamic republic to be its main foe due to repeated statements by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad calling for the Jewish state to be “wiped off the map.”

[hosted news by google]