No confirmation Iran has halted higher-grade enrichment

by
October 25, 2013

VIENNA | Diplomats accredited to the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Friday they had no information to substantiate word from a senior Iranian parliamentarian that Tehran has halted its most sensitive atomic activity.

Iran’s enrichment of uranium to a fissile level of 20 percent is a major technical step taking it just short of the concentration needed for a nuclear weapon. Iran says it needs the material only to fuel a medical research reactor.

An envoy in Vienna, where the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is based, said he believed Iran was continuing to refine uranium to the 20 percent threshold despite the Iranian lawmaker’s comment.

The IAEA, which regularly inspects Iranian nuclear sites, has declined to comment on the issue. But several diplomats from member states said they were not aware of any such move by Iran.

They cautioned, however, that IAEA inspectors are believed to go to Iran’s uranium enrichment plants about once a week so it is possible the agency may not yet know of any halt if it only happened in the past few days. The next quarterly IAEA report on Iran will be issued in November.

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