Analysts on Friday played down the UN atomic agency’s discovery ofhigher-grade uranium traces in Iran, saying it was likely due to atechnical glitch rather than a covert attempt to enrich to armsgrade. The agency’s latest report, seen by AFP, did however say thatsatellite imagery showed “extensive activity” at the Parchinmilitary site, which it said could hamper investigating claims ofsuspected nuclear weapons research there. The International Atomic Energy Agency also revealed that its head,Yukiya Amano, wanted in a visit to Tehran on May 21 to “conclude” adeal on clarifying accusations of such research. But Amano returned empty-handed, saying only that he and Iran’schief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili made a “decision” to reach anagreement, and that he expected this to be signed “quite soon.” The agency report said that the traces found at the Fordo site,inside a mountain near Qom, were of uranium enriched to purities of27 percent. Iran has told the IAEA that the site was enriching only to 20percent, which was already of concern to the watchdog since thecapability to do so shortens the theoretical time needed to enrichto weapons-grade uranium of 90 percent.
“Iran indicated that the production of such particles ‘above thetarget value’ may happen for technical reasons beyond theoperator’s control,” the report said. “The agency is assessing Iran’s explanation and has requestedfurther details. On 5 May 2012, the agency took furtherenvironmental samples from the same location…. These samples arecurrently being analysed,” it added. Analysts played down the discovery, with Mark Fitzpatrick from theInternational Institute for Strategic Studies think-tank in Londonsaying it was “probably a technical glitch.” “There are good reasons to worry about Iran’s enrichment work butthis probably isn’t one of them,” he told AFP.
Mark Hibbs, nuclear proliferation expert at the Carnegie Foundationfor International Peace, agreed, telling AFP that the discovery”isn’t proof that Iran is clandestinely enriching uranium to over20 percent.” “It can happen,” a senior official who wished to remain anonymoussaid. Hibbs added however that Amano “has to be concerned about thatpossibility because of Iran’s track record of concealment andfailure to declare nuclear activities.” A diplomat in Vienna told AFP that it was “is possible that 27percent particles are the result of the start-up of centrifugecascades.” “It is not necessarily a sign that Iran is enriching to levelsbeyond what it has declared. We wait for the agency’s analysis,”the envoy told AFP on condition of anonymity. They added however that multiple UN Security Council resolutionshad called on Iran to cease all enrichment activities because ofthe IAEA being unable to verify that they were purely for peacefulpurposes. STB Receiver
The P5+1 powers — the United States, Russia, China, Britain,France and Germany — proposed in a meeting with Iran this weekthat Iran stop 20-percent enrichment and a suspension of allactivities at Fordo, diplomats said. Iran is however loath to do any such thing without the prospectthat UN and unilateral sanctions imposed on the country in recentyears — more will hit on July 1 — would be eased. The P5+1’s proposals stopped short of this, offering instead aseries of lesser incentives that state media reports in Iranindicated Tehran thought were woefully insufficient. The two days of intense talks in Baghdad achieved very little otherthan agreeing to meet again in Moscow on June 18-19. ATSC Digital Receiver
The IAEA report also said that new satellite imagery indicated”extensive activities” were taking place at buildings at theParchin military site near Tehran which the IAEA says it would liketo inspect but Iran has denied it. The IAEA said that “virtually no activity had been observed for anumber of years” and that the apparent new work “could hamper theagency’s ability to undertake effective verification.” Iran says Parchin is not a designated nuclear site and thus it isnot obliged to permit IAEA inspections, although it last did so in2005. It says if it did allow inspections of the site, they would have tobe part of an agreed “road map” that would address the IAEA’sconcerns in a set order. Regarding Amano’s sought-after accord with Iran, the IAEA reportsaid “some differences remained” but that Jalili, who alsorepresented Iran in Baghdad this week, “made clear that these werenot obstacles to reaching agreement.” “The Director General invites Iran to expedite final agreement …and urges Iran to engage the agency on the substance of the issuesas soon as possible, including by providing early access to theParchin site,” it said. DVB-T Digital Receiver Manufacturer
The full report was not made public but was sent to member states.It can be found however at: tinyurl.com/d2wb8aa.