Monday, September 06, 2004

Janes: Iran gets mixed nuclear report

Iran gets mixed nuclear report

Andrew Koch JDW Bureau Chief
Washington, DC

The latest report by the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), says that many of the unresolved issues surrounding Iran's atomic programme are being clarified or resolved outright: language that appears to make US demands for the issue to be brought before the UN Security Council unworkable.

Two key issues regarding Iran's nuclear declarations remain, the report said: contamination of gas centrifuges with highly enriched uranium (HEU) and low-enriched uranium (LEU) particles; and its programme to manufacture or import P-1 and P-2 centrifuges. The report said that two other issues -Tehran's laser enrichment programme and previous experiments to convert uranium from ore to oxide, metal and other forms - were resolved to the degree that they could be treated as routine safeguards.

The question as to how centrifuge components located at Natanz, a Kalaye Electric Company workshop, Farayand Technique and Pars Trash became contaminated with both HEU and LEU particles still remains. Iran claims the contaminating substances were already on the centrifuge components when they bought them through the smuggling network headed by former Pakistani scientist A Q Khan. The IAEA report calls the Iranian account "plausible", noting that the HEU contamination at Natanz and Kalaye Electric matches that on imported components. However, several US officials said they do not believe Tehran is telling the whole truth, noting they suspect some of the contamination may have come from undeclared Iranian enrichment experiments. The latest report said the agency has made "some progress" in resolving the issue, but more information is needed before making a final determination.

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