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IAEA Suspends Nuke Aid to Iran

The International Atomic Energy Agency has suspended some technical aid projects in Iran to comply with new U.N. sanctions slapped on Tehran over suspicions it may be trying to build nuclear bombs, diplomats say.

Western powers want an IAEA review of aid for Iran's civilian nuclear energy programme to cut most of the 65 projects but face resistance from a developing nation bloc to which Iran belongs, raising tension within the nuclear watchdog.

Findings from the review will be presented to the 35-nation IAEA governing board next month for a probable vote at its next scheduled meeting in March. But some projects had already been provisionally shelved, Western diplomats said on Wednesday.

"Projects that are in the view of the (IAEA) secretariat definitely not compatible with U.N. Resolution 1737 have been put on hold already," said a European Union diplomat among a group briefed by the IAEA's technical aid director this week.

"It [the secretariat] has also draw up a preliminary list of projects that can be continued and is completing an assessment of those more difficult to assess, the ones with a more hybrid character, or the ones where it boils down to proper interpretation and definition," the diplomat added.

Secretariat officials declined to say how many projects were suspended or which ones, said the diplomat, who declined to be identified.

A senior source within the IAEA confirmed the development. Iranian officials were not immediately available for comment.

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