IAEA and Pakistani officials to meet next week on Iran uranium
VIENNA: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will meet with Pakistani officials here next week as part of its efforts to determine if Iran was using smuggled Pakistani equipment to make enriched uranium that could be used for atom bombs, diplomats said Saturday.
Pakistan had in May sent centrifuge parts to the UN nuclear watchdog at its headquarters to enable it to compare microscopic traces of uranium on them with those found on equipment in Iran, believed to have been smuggled in from Pakistan. The IAEA concluded that “the highly enriched uranium appears to emanate from Pakistan,” from the imported equipment and not from Iranian enrichment work, a Western diplomat close to the IAEA told AFP. This ruling “will be seen by those in favour of Iran as another checkmark in their column,” to back up Tehran’s rebuttals of US charges that it is secretly developing nuclear weapons, the diplomat said.
The IAEA has since February 2003 been investigating US charges that the Islamic Republic, which says its nuclear program is a peaceful effort to generate electricity, has a covert weapons program. The enriched uranium contamination issue was a main sticking point in the investigation, although others still remain. The diplomat said the talks with the Pakistanis are part of a review of the IAEA findings which will also involve independent experts later on.
Pakistan had in May insisted that the centrifuge parts it sent to the IAEA remained technically under its control and would be brought back home by Pakistani experts, a second diplomat said. He said the Pakistanis did not want anyone outside the IAEA to have access to information that could reveal Pakistani nuclear secrets. afp