U.N. Inspectors Say Iran Removed Nuclear Equipment in Possible Cover-Up

Associated Press
via FoxNews.com

VIENNA — U.N. nuclear inspectors revisiting an Iranian laboratory to follow up on activities that could be linked to a secret nuclear weapons program recently discovered that some equipment believed used in the experiments has disappeared, diplomats said Friday.

One of the diplomats told The Associated Press that senior officials within the International Atomic Energy Agency — the U.N. nuclear watchdog — were concerned that the removal was an attempted cover-up.

Two others confirmed that some apparatus had gone missing. One said it was too early to draw conclusions, suggesting it could have been taken to another site for nothing more than maintenance. The three spoke on condition of anonymity because information surrounding the Iran nuclear probe is confidential.

At issue is pyroprocessing, a procedure that can be used to purify uranium metal used in nuclear warheads.

Iran in January confirmed to the agency that it had carried out pyroprocessing experiments, prompting a request from the nuclear agency for more information — but then backtracked in March in comments at a closed meeting of the IAEA’s governing board.

“In fact there is not pyroprocessing R&D activity and the question raised has been a misinterpretation by the Agency inspectors,” said an excerpt of the Iranian statement made available this week to the AP.

The experiments prompted IAEA experts to revisit the site — the Jabr Inb Jayan Multipurpose Research Laboratory in Tehran — where they found some of the equipment removed to an undisclosed site, said the diplomats. One of the two said the electrolysis unit used in separating out impurities from uranium metal was among the apparatus that had been removed. Another said chemical apparatus used in the process were now missing.

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