- VIENNA (Reuters) - The analysis
of soil samples taken by U.N. inspectors at Lavizan, a site in Tehran that
U.S. officials suspect may be linked to an atomic weapons program, shows
no sign of nuclear activity, Western diplomats said.
- Satellite photos of Lavizan taken between August 2003
and May 2004 showed that Iran had completely razed Lavizan, a site which
Iran said was a former military research laboratory, but which it said
had nothing to do with atomic-related activities.
- "The environmental samples taken at Lavizan have
come back negative so far," a Vienna-based diplomat who follows the
U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) told Reuters. Negative means
the samples contained no traces of nuclear materials.
- Washington accused Iran of removing a substantial amount
of topsoil and rubble from the site and replacing it with a new layer of
soil, in what U.S. officials said might have been an attempt to cover clandestine
nuclear activity at Lavizan.
- Former U.S. ambassador to the IAEA, Kenneth Brill, accused
Iran in June of using "the wrecking ball and bulldozer" to sanitize
Lavizan prior to the arrival of U.N. inspectors.
- But another diplomat close to the IAEA told Reuters that
on-site inspections of Lavizan produced no proof that any soil had been
removed at all.
- The United States accuses Iran of developing nuclear
weapons under cover of a civilian atomic energy program, a charge Tehran
has repeatedly denied.
- The IAEA has been inspecting Iran's nuclear program for
two years. Although it has uncovered many previously concealed activities
that could be linked to weapons activity, it has found no "smoking
gun" to prove Washington's case.
- Copyright © 2004 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved.
Republication or redistribution of Reuters content is expressly prohibited
without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable
for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance