Iran admits violating Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Iran has admitted violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by enriching uranium without the authorization of the International Atomic Energy Agency.

An IAEA report distributed to the agency's 35-member board of governors asserted that Iran has admitted to several violations of the NPT. They include a secret uranium enrichment program that has been operating since 1985.

During the summer of 2003, an IAEA team had found traces of enriched uranium, but Iran said the material came from an unnamed country, Middle East Newsline reported.

"Iran has now acknowledged that it has been developing, for 18 years, a uranium centrifuge program, and, for 12 years, a laser enrichment program," the report said. "In that context Iran has admitted that it produced small amounts of LEU [low-enriched uranium], using both centrifuge and laser enrichment processes and a small amount of plutonium."

The use of centrifuges and lasers are regarded as the leading methods for producing fissile material for both nuclear power plants or weapons. Iran has maintained that its uranium enrichment was for civilian purposes.

After months of denial, Iran told the agency that the Islamic republic enriched uranium at the Kalaye Electric Co. facility in 1999 and 2000.

The IAEA report determined that the agency could not conclude that Iran's secret nuclear program was meant for the assembly of atomic bombs. But the agency did not rule out such a goal over the next few years as Iran continues to build its nuclear infrastructure.

"It will take some time before the agency is able to conclude that Iran's nuclear program is exclusively for peaceful purposes," the report said.

The report raised concerns over Iran's nuclear program but did not determine that Teheran had violated the NPT. The agency said Iran had pursued a policy of concealment until October 2003. But the agency stressed that the amount of nuclear material found fell far short of what was required for the assembly of a bomb.

"While most of the breaches identified to date have involved limited quantities of nuclear material, they have dealt with the most sensitive aspects of the nuclear fuel cycle, including enrichment and reprocessing," the report said.

Western diplomatic sources said the 29-page report appears to fall short of the expectations of the United States, which had sought an IAEA determination that Iran had failed to cooperate with the agency. Such a move would have resulted in the issue being relayed to the United Nations Security Council.

"In the end, the Board will have to judge when it meets on November 20th about what to do next and whether Iran has complied," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said on Monday.

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