Wed, Aug 29, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Iran clears up questions on plutonium issue


Iran has cleared up questions from the UN nuclear agency about its experiments with plutonium, a potential atom bomb material, a UN-Iranian working document released by Iran said on Monday.

The plutonium issue is one of several over which the UN Security Council has imposed sanctions to get Iran to cooperate with the watchdog International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is investigating US charges that Iran is covertly developing nuclear weapons.

Iran's mission to the IAEA released in Vienna the five-page text of a timetable for cooperation with the agency that was agreed on in closed-door talks with IAEA officials last week in Tehran.

The IAEA is to file a report on Iran this week, ahead of a meeting of its 35-nation board of governors next month, which will be crucial in determining the level of Iranian cooperation.

The US has said that Iran is playing at cooperating with the IAEA in order to avoid further UN sanctions, and that it is still defying the UN demand for it to stop making enriched uranium.

Plutonium and enriched uranium are both parts of civilian nuclear programs but can also be used to make atom bombs.

The timetable said Iran has already agreed to five new IAEA inspectors and is opening the door to resolving concern over documents that allegedly point to it having a secret military project for developing the bomb.

Other issues include Iran's work on sophisticated centrifuges to enrich uranium and its building of a heavy-water reactor to make plutonium.

Iran also said it would answer questions about an alleged "Green Salt project," which US intelligence said involves a secret site to prepare uranium and also alleged research on putting nuclear warheads on missiles.

But Tehran said in the text that these were "politically motivated and baseless allegations."

The goal, said a diplomat, is to answer all questions by December.

A UN official said the document reflected both the IAEA's and Iran's views and that the question of whether Iran had experimented with plutonium more recently than it had stated and that there was plutonium unaccounted for had been resolved.

The official and diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity owing to the sensitive nature of the issue.

The timetable released by Iran's mission to the Vienna-based IAEA said: "On 20 August 2007, the agency stated that earlier statements made by Iran [on the issue of plutonium] are consistent with the agency's findings and thus this matter is resolved."

It said the IAEA would be communicating this "officially ... to Iran through a letter."

The UN Security Council has imposed two rounds of sanctions on Iran to get it to stop uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing and to answer questions from the IAEA.

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