Mohamed ElBaradei: Highly enriched uranium found in Iran is "of little significance"

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Back in 2003, inspectors had discovered several sites in Iran that tested positive for highly enriched uranium, but the uranium was believed to have come from equipment that was previously from Pakistan.

On Friday, Reuters published a report quoting UN diplomats from Vienna who wish to remain anonymous alleging that preliminary analysis of microscopic dust collected from equipment at the now razed Lavizan-Shiyan research center in Iran in January of 2005, contained traces of "highly enriched uranium". "It's no smoking gun. There could be many explanations. But it increases pressure on Iran to come clean about Lavizan," Reuters reported the European diplomat as stating.

According to the Islamic Republic News Agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the IAEA, said today that the finding of the highly enriched uranium is "of little significance at the current juncture." ElBaradei also pointed out that the investigation into where it came from is continuing and that the uranium could have come from equipment that was imported to Iran, but that "time is still needed to reach a conclusion in this respect."

ElBaradei also highlighted that he is aware of the right for Iran to use nuclear material for "peaceful purposes" and that "a balance between Iran's nuclear rights and concerns of the international community would not be created through verbal disputes, but rather dialogue would be the solution."

Speaking on Friday about the allegation, former UN weapons inspector and former head of the Institute for Science and International Security, David Albright said, "even if it is the same contamination, this is a significant finding because it indicates something was going on at Lavizan. It could be part of Iran's known centrifuge program or a parallel program."

In response, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Asefi asserted, "these comments lack any importance and do not come from a real source." Denying that his country had carried out any work at the Lavizan-Shiyan facility, Asefi added that the UN claims were "baseless and without importance."

On Friday Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad responded to the UN allegations saying, "they are trying to frighten our country by waging a propaganda campaign using strong words. The people of Iran and the country are not afraid of them" and that "this whole thing is just psychological propaganda, but they know the Islamic republic nation of Iran is a strong nation. I think they have better sense than to have a war with Iran. Every country has the right to defend its right in accordance with the agreed way."

Iran started to enrich uranium at its Natanz nuclear facility April 11, and continues to claim its program is for peaceful purposes.

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This audio file was created from the text revision dated 2006-05-15 and may not reflect subsequent text edits to this report. (audio help)