Kazakh foreign ministry denies plans to deliver uranium to Iran
ASTANA, December 30 (RIA Novosti) - Kazakhstan has not planned any uranium supplies to Iran, an official spokesman for the ex-Soviet state's Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.
The Associated Press news agency reported earlier on Wednesday Tehran was close to clinching a $450 million deal to clandestinely import 1,350 tons of purified uranium ore from Kazakhstan.
"Kazakhstan unconditionally observes all requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), so any [uranium] sale surpassing the IAEA control is out of the question," Yerzhan Ashikbayev said.
The Kazakh diplomat said his ministry would soon make an official statement.
The IAEA believes Iran is running out of uranium reserves which may hamper its controversial nuclear program which the Islamic nation claims it needs purely for peaceful energy production. A report drafted by an IAEA member nation said Tehran could make some 150 nuclear warheads from 1,350 metric tons of uranium ore.
However, intelligence sources have failed to establish Kazakhstan's role in the alleged deal. Both the UN Security Council and the IAEA have launched talks with Astana to clarify the situation.
U.S. Department of State Spokesman Ian Kelly warned that "the transfer of any uranium yellowcake ... to Iran would constitute a clear violation of UNSC sanctions."
Iran, which is already under three sets of United Nations sanctions for refusing to halt uranium enrichment, recently announced plans to build 10 new uranium enrichment facilities. Western powers suspect it of pursuing an atomic weapons program.
Kazakhstan is among the world's top three uranium producers. Last year, Kazakh uranium output exceeded 8,500. Iran produces some 20 metric tons of uranium ore annually, which is not enough for a large reactor.
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