Sun, Feb 26, 2012 - Page 1 News List

Iran uranium ‘discrepancy’ still unresolved, IAEA says

Reuters, VIENNA

Iran has yet to clarify a discrepancy in uranium quantities at a Tehran research site, a UN nuclear watchdog report said, after measurements by international inspectors last year failed to match the amount declared by the laboratory.

The US has expressed concern the material may have been diverted to suspected weapons-related research activity.

UN inspectors have sought information from Iran to help explain the issue after their inventory in August last year of natural uranium metal and process waste at the research facility in Tehran measured 19.8kg less than the laboratory’s count.

“The discrepancy remains to be clarified,” said the latest quarterly report on Iran by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), issued to member states on Friday evening.

The 11-page document also showed that Iran had sharply increased its uranium enrichment drive. The report’s findings, which added to fears of escalating tension between Iran and the West, sent oil prices higher.

In discussions with Iran this month about the discrepancy at the Jabr Ibn Hayan Multipurpose Research Laboratory, the IAEA said it had requested access to records and staff involved in uranium metal conversion experiments from 1995 to 2002.

“Iran indicated that it no longer possessed the relevant documentation and that the personnel involved were no longer available,” the UN agency’s report said.

The IAEA said Iran had suggested the discrepancy may have been caused by a higher amount of uranium in the waste than had been measured by the UN inspectors.

“In light of this, Iran has offered to process all of the waste material and to extract the uranium contained therein,” it said.

The report also gave details of its mission to Tehran this week where Iran failed to respond to allegations of research relevant to developing nuclear arms.

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