Israel Accuses UN of Covering up Iran Nukes

Israeli newspapers accused the United Nations nuclear watchdog of holding back incriminating evidence of Iran’s drive to obtain nuclear weapons as Israeli President Shimon Peres said Wednesday Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev had promised to review its planned sale of sophisticated S-300 air defense system to the Islamic Republic.

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reported that Tel Aviv is accusing the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of holding back incriminating evidence of Iran’s drive to obtain nuclear weapons.

It cited unnamed Israeli officials as saying the U.N. nuclear watchdog was refraining from publishing data obtained in recent months that indicates Iran is pursing information about weaponization efforts and a military nuclear program.

IAEA chief Mohamed El-Baradei, who is to vacate his post in December, said the U.N. watchdog does not have any evidence suggesting Iran is developing a nuclear weapons program.

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 U.S. senior officials have recently pressured ElBaradei to publish the information, the newspaper said.

Israel has often criticized 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.

The Middle East’s only undeclared nuclear armed power, Israel, along with Washington suspects Iran of trying to develop atomic weapons under the guise of a civilian nuclear program, a charge Tehran denies.

Meanwhile, Peres told news agencies a day after he held talks with the Russian leader that: "President Medvedev promised to review this issue once again after I explained that it would have an impact on the balance of force in our region."

The contract for the S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems is reported to have been signed back in 2005 but has proved hugely controversial as the weapons would significantly upgrade Iranian air defense capabilities.

( English and Agencies)

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