Monday, August 09, 2004

The Australian: New twist in Iran nuclear row [August 10, 2004]

The Australian: New twist in Iran nuclear row [August 10, 2004]: "
New twist in Iran nuclear row
From correspondents in London
August 10, 2004
TRACES of enriched uranium detected in Iran are now believed to have come from equipment provided by a smuggling network headed by Pakistan's disgraced former nuclear chief scientist, according to a report today.

The traces have been at the heart of an ongoing international dispute over whether Tehran has reneged on its obligations to inform the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of all enrichment activities.

"IAEA inspectors have reached a tentative conclusion that the contamination came from equipment provided by the nuclear smuggling network headed by Pakistani scientist A Q Khan," Jane's Defence Weekly magazine said, quoting "sources close to the agency".

It said inspectors believed they could confirm that a sample of uranium enriched to 54 per cent, found at one Iranian site, had come from Pakistani equipment.

"The confirmation was only possible after Islamabad gave the IAEA data to verify the uranium source and the US provided a simulation of the Pakistani nuclear program that matched the account," Jane's said.

A separate contamination sample, of uranium enriched to 36 per cent, derived from Russian equipment that Moscow had supplied to China, which in turn passed it on to Pakistan as part of a previous nuclear assistance program, it said.

From Pakistan, it was sold by Mr Khan to Iran, it added.

"The sources note that the origins of several other contamination samples are difficult to trace and may never be known," Jane's said.

It had previously been known that inspectors from the Vienna-based IAEA had found traces of highly-enriched uranium inside Iran - leading to suspicions Iran had been trying to produce nuclear bombs and not just atomic energy as it insists.

But Tehran maintained that the traces found their way into the country on equipment bought on an international black market operated by Pakistan's disgraced former nuclear chief, Abdul Qadeer Khan.

Pakistan's foreign minister Khurshid Mahmud Kasuri, on a visit to Tehran, said Islamabad was co-operating with a UN probe into Iran's suspect nuclear program.

But he ruled out allowing inspectors into Pakistan as part of the crucial investigation.

In Washington, US President George W. Bush called on Iran to "abandon her nuclear ambitions" and vowed to stand with European allies to pressure Tehran to do so."

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