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U.N. finds more uranium traces in Iran

By Associated Press
Published September 26, 2003

VIENNA - U.N. atomic experts have found traces of weapons-grade uranium at a second site in Iran, diplomats said Thursday. President Bush said talks with world leaders this week produced wide agreement that Iran must not be allowed to have a nuclear weapons program.

The diplomats said minute quantities of the substance were found by the International Atomic Energy Agency at the Kalaye Electric Co., just west of Tehran. They did not say where at the site the uranium was found.

Earlier this year, U.N. inspectors found weapons-grade highly enriched uranium particles at a plant in Natanz that is supposed to produce only a lower grade for energy purposes.

Iran's Atomic Energy Organization said it had been informed of the new discovery and was evaluating the report.

Iran says traces of the new material were imported on equipment purchased from abroad, while the United States and its allies say it is further of evidence of a nuclear weapons program.

"These are part of a long-standing pattern of evasions and deception to disguise the true nature and purpose of Iran's nuclear activities," said Scott McClellan, Bush's spokesman.

Bush said he plans to raise the issue again during meetings over the next two days at Camp David with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and that it was a chief subject of many of his sessions with world leaders in New York.

"It is very important for the world to come together to make it very clear to Iran that there will be universal condemnation if they continue with a nuclear weapons program," Bush told reporters in Washington. "I'll tell you, the response was very positive. People understand the danger of the Iranians having a nuclear weapons program."

The U.N. agency has set an Oct. 31 deadline for Iran to prove that its nuclear program is for energy purposes, as it claims, and not for weapons.

In imposing the deadline, the IAEA has also urged countries that have sold equipment to Iran to come forward. Iran says it has kept no lists of suppliers, but diplomats have told the Associated Press that some of the equipment is consistent with Pakistan's nuclear program while other components appear to have come from West European companies.

At its next meetings, the agency's board of governors could ask the U.N. Security Council to get involved in the dispute - possibly by imposing sanctions - if it finds that Iran is violating the global treaty banning the spread of nuclear weapons.

The Bush administration demanded that Iran comply with U.N. demands and said it would support a referral to the Security Council if it does not.

The presence of minute particles of highly enriched uranium at the new site could mean nothing more than some of the equipment contaminated with the substance at Natanz, 150 miles south of the capital, was stored or used at some point at the Kalaye site, the AP reported, quoting an unnamed diplomat.

Agency officials said they would not detail results of IAEA findings, which are being compiled in a confidential report for the board's meeting on Nov. 20.


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