Intel Report: Iran Looking to Smuggle Raw Uranium

Associated Press/FoxNews.com
Tuesday, December 29, 2009

VIENNA — Iran is close to clinching a deal to clandestinely import 1,350 tons of purified uranium ore from Kazakhstan, according to an intelligence report obtained by The Associated Press on Tuesday. Diplomats said the assessment was heightening international concern about Tehran’s nuclear activities.

Such a purified uranium ore deal would be significant because Tehran appears to be running out of the material, which it needs to feed its uranium enrichment program.

The report was drawn up by a member nation of the International Atomic Energy agency and provided to the AP on condition of that the country not be identified because of the confidential nature of the information.

Such imports are banned by the U.N. Security Council.

In New York, Burkina Faso’s U.N. Ambassador Michel Kafando, a co-chair of the Security Council’s Iran sanctions committee, referred questions Tuesday about a potential deal between Iran and Kazakhstan to his sanctions adviser, Zongo Saidou.

Saidou told the AP that, as far as he knew, none of the U.N.’s member nations have alerted the committee about any such allegations. “We don’t have any official information yet regarding this kind of exchange between the two countries,” Saidou said. “I don’t have any information; I don’t have any proof.”

A senior U.N. official said the agency was aware of the intelligence report’s assessment but could not yet draw conclusions. He demanded anonymity for discussing confidential information. A Western diplomat from a member of the IAEA’s 35-nation board said the report was causing “concern” among countries that have seen it and generating “intelligence chatter.” The diplomat also requested anonymity for discussing intelligence information.

A two-page summary of the report obtained by the AP said deal could be completed within weeks. It said Tehran was willing to pay $450 million, or close to 315 million euros, for the shipment.

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