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Iran Open to Inspections After IAEA Reportedly Finds Enriched Uranium

BY Admin  August 26, 2003 at 3:00 PM EST

The report, to be distributed to the IAEA’s Board of Governors on Sept. 8, heightens suspicion that Iran may be running a covert nuclear weapons program.

Mark Gwozdecky, a spokesman for the Vienna-based nuclear watchdog, told CNN Tuesday that the IAEA has not yet determined whether Iran is attempting to develop nuclear weapons.

“There are a number of scenarios which would explain why highly enriched uranium might be found in Iran,” Gwozdecky said. “We need to examine every one of those scenarios to determine which is the most plausible.”

Gwozdecky warned against “jumping to conclusions” as to why Iran would be in possession of enriched uranium, a key component of atomic weapons.

Reuters, which obtained a copy of the confidential report, quoted the IAEA as saying, “Additional work … is required to arrive at conclusions about Iran’s statements that there have been no uranium enrichment activities in Iran involving nuclear material.”

According to Gwozdecky, Iranian officials have told the IAEA that the traces of enriched uranium came from equipment purchased from another country, which was already contaminated.

Reuters quotes the IAEA report as saying the agency is continuing to assess Iran’s assertion that “the highly enriched uranium particles identified in samples taken at Natanz could be attributable to contamination from imported components.”

Gwozdecky said inspectors have visited Iran five times since June and have taken numerous samples from nuclear plants.

According to Iran’s official news agency, IRNA, Iran expressed willingness Tuesday to sign an Additional Protocol, which would allow the IAEA to conduct snap inspections of the Iranian nuclear program.

IRNA quoted Ali Akbar Salehi, Iran’s representative to IAEA, as saying Iran was ready to sign the Additional Protocol.

However, Salehi also indicated that while Iran is prepared to allow the IAEA to conduct unannounced inspections of nuclear facilities, they need a guarantee that military secrets would not be revealed in the process.

“Iran would like to clarify some aspects regarding the preservation of its sovereignty due to the so-called ‘undeclared inspections’ that are envisioned by the Additional Protocol,” Salehi told IRNA.

Iranian government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said Iran “will undertake nothing without total guarantees” from the international community over sovereignty.