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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Moscow denies knowledge of uranium deal between Iran, Kazakhstan

RIA Novosti


MOSCOW, December 31 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow has no knowledge of an alleged uranium deal between Iran and Kazakhstan but will look into the allegations, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said Thursday.

Iran on Wednesday denied a Western media report of a secret $450 million deal to procure purified uranium ore from Kazakhstan. Tehran called the intelligence report cited by the Associated Press part of a psychological war.

Commenting on the information that a state signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty had submitted a report on the purported deal to the UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, Andrei Nesterenko said, "We have not seen the document yet."

"Nor has the Agency provided any official information on the issue."

He said Moscow operated on the premise that UN Security Council Resolution 1737 unequivocally prohibits the import of any nuclear materials to Iran, including purified uranium ore.

"We believe that these requirements must be strictly observed by all states," he said.

Kazakhstan has denied any plans to supply uranium to Iran.

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 civilian energy production. A report drafted by an IAEA member nation said Tehran could make some 150 nuclear warheads from 1,350 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.

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