Diplomats: Iran Underestimated Nuclear Fuel Production
By VOA News
20 February 2009
Diplomats close to the U.N. nuclear agency said Iran has until recently been underestimating the amount of uranium it has enriched by nearly one-third.
The disclosure came in a report issued Thursday to the board of governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Thursday's IAEA report said Iran had produced a total of 839 kilograms of low-enriched uranium (UF6) by mid-November. But the agency's previous report, published in November, said Iran at the time estimated that it had produced only 630 kilograms, a difference of about a third.
Diplomats are downplaying the significance of the discrepancy. They attribute it to the difference between Iran's own estimates of its production and the actual measurements made by IAEA inspectors in their annual physical inventory.
But a White House spokesman, Robert Gibbs, said Friday that the report "represents another lost opportunity for Iran," and that the international community cannot be confident that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful.
The new figures of previous production, plus Iran's estimate that it has enriched another 171 kilograms of uranium between November and January, bring the total amount of low-enriched nuclear fuel that Iran is believed to possess to 1,010 kilograms.
Nuclear experts said that amount, if it were further purified, would be enough to create a nuclear weapon if Iran had the technical ability to do so.
Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful and aimed only at producing nuclear energy. The United States and Europe believe Iran is secretly pursuing nuclear weapons.
Some information for this report was provided by Reuters.
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