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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

IAEA finds undeclared uranium-enrichment parts in Iran

PLA Daily 2004-02-20

VIENNA, Feb. 19 (Xinhuanet) -- Diplomats here said Thursday that the UN nuclear inspectors uncovered undeclared uranium-enrichment equipment in Iran, a finding that casts doubts over the Islamic nation's pledge to scrap its atomic ambitions.

Reports said centrifuge components were found by inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in an air base near Tehran.

The IAEA did not comment on the finding.

The newly discovered parts, compatible with the Pakistan-modified P-2 type, were believed to be obtained through a black market network headed by the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb Abdul Qadeer Khan, who confessed that he had leaked nuclear know-how to both Iran and Libya.

The P-2 centrifuge can be used to produce materials for both reactors and bombs.

However, Iran denied the existence of the advanced nuclear equipment, describing those reports as "unfounded."

Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said in a statement that the centrifuges in Iran were merely part of a research project that had not been commissioned yet.

Iran's nuclear activities are intended for peaceful purposes and the country has not pursued and still does not pursue any nuclear weapons program, the spokesman said.

Iran had previously declared a less advanced centrifuge model to the IAEA.

The latest finding came as another embarrassment to Iran after the UN inspectors found undeclared drawings of nuclear centrifuge matching those found in Libya.

In an effort to dispel suspicion over its nuclear program, Iransigned an additional protocol to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) last December, allowing unfettered UN inspections to its nuclear facilities.

It remains unclear whether the uncovered components would become a new evidence the IAEA used to submit to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions against Iran. The IAEA will discussthe issue in a forthcoming meeting here on March 8.



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