Tehran, July 19 (Reuters): Iran said today reports that enriched uranium was found in samples taken by UN nuclear inspectors in Iran were questionable and called on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to clear up the issue.
“The issue that samples taken contain enriched uranium is very questionable and we are expecting this issue to become clear in our talks with the IAEA,” state television quoted foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi as saying.
Diplomats have said IAEA inspectors found enriched uranium in environmental samples taken in Iran, which could mean Tehran has been enriching uranium without informing the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency.
The diplomats also said initial analysis of the samples showed uranium enrichment levels possibly consistent with an attempt to make weapons-grade material.
They said it could also be the result of contamination, though Tehran would need to explain how this happened to the IAEA.
Enrichment is a process which purifies uranium to make it useable in nuclear fuel — or nuclear weapons.
Iran, which Washington last year dubbed a member of an “axis of evil” with Iraq and North Korea, says it has no intention of building atomic arms and merely wants to use nuclear energy to generate electricity.
Iran says the IAEA has not raised the issue of the sample results with Tehran.
“It is the responsibility of the IAEA to make comments on this issue, not diplomats who do not have exact information on such things,” Asefi was quoted as saying by state radio.
The IAEA says initial sample results from Iran are being analysed and it expects to take more samples in coming weeks. IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei neither confirmed nor denied the report, but said: “Any media reporting on sample results would be pure speculation.”